Vigil Honors Sioux City "Trailblazer" Flora Lee
A vigil took place last night to honor Sioux City trailblazer Flora Lee. Lee was the first Black woman elected to public office in Woodbury County. Her accomplishments included serving a dozen years on the school board, leading the local NAACP, and working as Executive Director of Woman Aware. She worked for Woman Aware at the time of her death last week at 69.
A few dozen people, including family and friends, gathered to share their memories of Flora Lee, including City Council Member Matthew O’Kane, who considered her a mentor and friend.
“I feel it right here. It’s just like getting kicked right in the stomach. And I don’t know how to get past that because one of the people in our community that we would go to get past that was Flora. Everybody I keep talking to says, when I am dealing with loss when I am dealing with something that I don’t know how to deal with, I go to Flora, because we all do that, we all go to Flora. When I thought about running for city council, I went to Flora. She said you need to do this.”
The vigil took place at the Celebrating Community Project in downtown Sioux City. The project features sculptures of Sioux City civil rights leaders and was renamed the Rudy and Flora Lee Celebrating Community Project to honor the Lees’ dedication to equality. Rudy, a long-time Sioux City firefighter, died in 2017.
Also sharing her thoughts was Penny Rosfjord, who helped organize the gathering. Rosfjord says Lee shows support during her husband’s illness.
“I tried to be that person, I strive to be that person, but she was that person. And I bet if I look around here, there are probably others that she has done the same thing. It's just the little things, and I think that if you walk away here tonight, that's one thing you should put in your back pocket and think about, we have to care about one another, and she did that very well.”
A visitation for Flora Lee is planned for Tuesday night at Meyer Brothers Colonial Chapel, with a funeral service Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the Orpheum Theatre. Rev. Dr. Albert Mosley, the president of Morningside University, will be officiating.