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Local Civil Rights Leader Vernice Warfield Passes

By Staff –


Vernice Warfield, Photo: Twitter

Vernice Warfield, Photo: Twitter

Local civil rights leader and community activist Vernice Warfield passed away at her home in Rochester on Monday, at the age of 102.

Warfield had been one of the first few black students to attend the University of Rochester in 1944, before going on to become pastor at A.M.E Zion Church in Auburn, following her marriage to Robert Warfield in 1947.

Warfield was best known for putting together parent/teacher groups, and working locally to get children of color adopted, as well as presiding over the local chapter of the National Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, according to an article in the Democrat and Chronicle.

She also helped launch the Urban League of Rochester, and FIGHT, two organizations that began as attempts to create equality for minorities in Rochester during the late 1960s.

Vernice Warfield’s brother-in-law, William Warfield, was a prominent African-American soloist and recitalist at the Eastman School of Music.

In addition, her son Thomas currently heads the National Technical Institute for the Deaf dance program at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Robert Warfield passed away in 2000, and Vernice is survived by one daughter, Wilma, and two sons, Michael and Thomas.

Mayor Lovely Warren has released the following statement regarding Vernice’s passing:

“Reverend Vernice Warfield spent more than 100 years on this earth as a servant of God – and as a servant of others. She was a trailblazer, and a fighter for our community. You were as likely to see her leading her neighbors in prayer as you were to see her on a ladder, cleaning her gutters at the age of 102.

In February of 2014, I had the great honor of giving my first Key to the City as mayor to Rev. Warfield. As the first female and second African-American mayor of Rochester, this moment was particularly meaningful, because I know that without trailblazers like her, I would not sit in this office.

Rev. Warfield lived off of E. Main Street for 65 years – never losing hope for the neighborhood she knew and loved. And, due to the hard work of Vernice and her neighbors, a new housing development in her neighborhood will bear her name – a testament to her lifelong pursuit of equality and opportunity.

Her legacy lives on through the thousands of lives she touched, the children she fought for, the men and women of color she mentored, and the parishioners who found peace and inspiration through her weekly services. Today, her sons Michael and Thomas continue the great work that she started.

“May her memory be for a blessing – and may her life be an inspiration to us all.”

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