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Marva Smith Battle-Bey memorial service, Saturday

Los Angeles City Hall Council Chambers is site for memorial; public viewing, Friday By BETTY PLEASANT, Compton Herald staff LOS ANGELES — A memorial service for Marva Smith Battle-Bey, a well-known wonder woman whose work on behalf

Los Angeles City Hall Council Chambers is site for memorial; public viewing, Friday

By BETTY PLEASANT, Compton Herald staff

LOS ANGELES — A memorial service for Marva Smith Battle-Bey, a well-known wonder woman whose work on behalf of South Los Angeles has been lauded by people in high places and low places, will be held April 16 at 11 a.m. in the Council Chambers in the Los Angeles City Hall.

Battle-Bey died on April 7 at age 64 and a public viewing of her body will be held at Angelus Funeral Home on Friday, April 15 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Battle-Bey was president and CEO of the Vermont-Slauson Economic Development  Corporation (VSEDC), one of Los Angeles’ leading community-based entities, which owns two shopping centers, developed and financed six supermarkets, rehabilitated hundreds of housing units, operates a business enterprise center and an industrial complex through which more than 3,000 jobs have been created for local residents.

“No words can adequately express what Marva has meant in our lives,” stated William A. Holland, vice president of the VSEDC board of directors. “Marva left a company that only she could have built,” Holland continued. “and her spirit will forever be the foundation of VSEDC. We will honor her memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work she loved so much.”.

Two other organizations were close to Battle-Bey’s heart. She was a national president of the Black Women’s Network, a Los Angeles-based national coalition of Black women dedicated to promoting leadership development and gender equity in the areas of health and wellness, education and economic empowerment for Black women and girls across the nation. Battle-Bey was a founding member.

Battle-Bey’s work did not go unrecognized, as she received numerous awards, including the Economic Justice Award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Leadership Award from Leadership California, the Paul Davidoff National Award for Social Advocacy from the American Planning Assn., and a NAACP Image Award. She was designated by the Los Angeles Business Journal as one of the “25 Most Powerful Women in Real Estate,” and by two city-wide local newspapers as one of the “Most Powerful African American Women in Los Angeles.”

Upon learning of Battle-Bey’s death, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said: “Marva Smith Battle-Bey was one of a kind. She was a fighter, fearless in her work to help people get access to good-paying jobs — no matter who they were or where they lived. She transformed lives by helping people dream beyond their circumstances, turn those dreams into goals, and make those goals into progress for themselves and their community.

“Businesses thrived because of Marva’s tireless efforts to broaden opportunity in South L.A. And, under her indispensable leadership, the Vermont-Slauson Economic Development Corp. was instrumental in rebuilding after the civil unrest of 1992,” Garcetti continued. “Her passing is a tremendous loss for all of Los Angeles. We must honor her memory by recommitting ourselves, every day, to our calling to make a seat at the table for everyone in the city she loved.”

Skip Cooper, president and CEO of the Black Business Assn., who worked closely with Battle-Bey for years, summed up her essence: “She was a phenomenal human being.”

Battle-Bey is survived by Stephon F. Battle-Bey, her companion of 30 years; one sister, two brothers and several cousins.

Betty Pleasant is a contributing writer and columnist for the Compton Herald. She was formerly a reporter at the Los Angeles Sentinel and a columnist at the Los Angeles Wave.

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