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Alumnus of the Year 2011 - Mr. Vernon A. Bell, Sr. Class of 1964

Vernon A. Bell, Sr. – Class of 1964

Vernon A. Bell, Sr. son of Agnes Wiletta Bell Fletcher and Joseph E. Herbert, stepson of Clarence Leo Fletcher and grandson of Ethel and Daniel Bell, was educated in Prince George County Maryland Public Schools under the tutelage of West Virginia State College Alumni. Among the mentors were George Farmer who was head coach at Fairmount Heights High School, whose wife was also an elementary school teacher of Vernon’s, and Edward Broadnax who was his printing and graphic arts instructor.  In his senior year in high school he was elected Student Council President which was instrumental in nurturing his planning and leadership abilities.  Encouraged by his WVSC alumni teachers and mentors, Vernon enrolled at then WVSC in 1960 and graduated in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science in Education.  Vernon continues to remember the advice given to him by Mr. T.C. Gregory in the Graphic Arts Department at WVSC to “do your best regardless of the activity”.  This became his “trademark” in his personal and professional endeavors as many can attest to.

Vernon was initiated into the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Tau Chapter, in 1961.  He became Polemarch of the Cleveland Alumni Chapter from 1971 to 1976 and was Social Director from 1979-1999. 

In 1965, Vernon gained employment with the Cleveland Public School System at Thomas Edison Vocational School as a graphic arts   teacher.  In 1969 he left that position to join the corporate world with Addressograph Multigraph Corporation, Midwest Region.  As a result of his diligence and fortitude, Vernon became the first African American Sales Representative for Addressograph Multigraph Corporation and as a result of his diligence received the 100% Sales Award from 1969 to 1971.

Vernon returned to the Cleveland Public Schools in 1971 and was assigned to John F. Kennedy High School in Career Education and remained in that position until his retirement.  It was during this time that he realized that the skills he learned in the corporate world could be taught to disadvantaged students to achieve gainful employment and positive work ethics.  Over a 35 year period Vernon placed approximately 900 high school seniors in corporate training positions within several companies. Many of these students went on to college or were kept as trainees in their respective placements throughout college. In 1985 he created and directed the Vocational Education Community Outreach Project, a summer jobs program for the Cleveland School System for 14 and 15 year old students, and continued to direct this program through 2000.  Vernon retired from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District in 2006 after 38 years of service.

Vernon is presently 2nd Vice President of the WVSU National Alumni Association, Inc., Conference Coordinator, and is a Life Member of WVSU.  Vernon has dedicated much of his time and efforts toward the WVSU National Alumni Association, Cleveland Alumni Chapter, and the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Tau Chapter. He believes that “an ordinary man can do extraordinary things” for mankind—students, peers, community, and his alma mater. Vernon has served as a role model for his children, grandchildren, and the students that he has nurtured.

Vernon has been married to his wife, Jacqueline (Jackie) for 46 years.  They have two sons: Vernon, Jr. (Crystal) and Gregory and three grandchildren (Ian, age 6; Kendall, age 4, and Ava, 1).  Vernon and Jackie are members of St. Jude Catholic Church.

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