Philadelphia has lost a noted business and community development leader.
Floyd W. Alston, founder of Beech Corporation, died September 24, 2012, after a long illness. He was 86.
He founded Beech Corporation in 1990, a community development organization designed to bring together business, government and nonprofit entities to redevelop the Cecil B. Moore neighborhood.
During his tenure with Beech, Alston partnered with Temple University and brought new investment to the community, bringing together resources that resulted in more than $200 million in private development.
“He was a Philadelphia legend in the Black community, and the business community in general, as one of the first African-American senior officers at a major bank,” says Kenneth Scott, president and CEO of Beech Companies made up of Beech Interplex, Beech Community Services, Beech Business Bank and Alston Beech Foundation.
“The amazing thing about Mr. Alston is that he was such as calm, compassionate person. He was a great negotiator because he didn’t let his highs get too high and his lows get too low. If it’s one thing that I could take from him is his mediation skills and being able to bring people together. To be such a mild-mannered person, you would have never thought that he was a Marine that had served in two wars.”
Alston was born Oct. 23, 1925, in Brooklyn, N.Y. He grew up in North Philadelphia and attended Northeast High School. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from Temple University. He also studied at the Fels Institute of State and Local Government.
He had the distinction of being a Montford Point Marine —– one of the nation’s first Black Marines.
Alston’s professional career spanned from him serving as vice president of First Pennsylvania Bank; president of the HOPE Development Corporation and manager of the Philadelphia Housing Authority.
As a civic leader, Alston served as president, vice president and board member of the School District of Philadelphia.
Former School District Superintendent Dr. Constance Clayton referred to Alston as “a man of high principles and integrity, fully committed to improving the education of all children, and sensitive to family needs.”
He was also on the boards of School District of Philadelphia, the African American Museum in Philadelphia, Berean Bank, The Philadelphia Tribune, Tribune Charities and other community organizations. He was the president and founder of the Tucker House, a 180-bed nursing home and a founding member of the Philadelphia Housing Development Corp.
He was a longtime member of Grace Baptist Church of Germantown, where he served as a deacon.
Throughout the years, Alston received awards and honors from various organizations including the National Bankers Association, Philadelphia Human Relations Commission, Martin Luther King Jr. Association, Germantown Historical Society and Men’s Club of Grace Baptist Church. He received honorary doctorates from the Wagner Free Institute of Science and Temple University.
When Alston received his honorary degree from Temple in 2008, then-president Ann Weaver Hart referred to him as a catalyst for change.
“Floyd Alston has been a catalyst for the kind of change that makes a real difference in the daily lives of Philadelphians, especially those who live and work in the community surrounding Temple,” Hart said.
“His lifelong dedication as a community leader is an inspirational example for our students.”
Alston was a lifetime member of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. He was also a member of the Boule – Sigma Pi Phi and Frontiers International.
A viewing and fraternal service will be held September 28 from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Grace Baptist Church of Germantown, 25 West Johnson Street.
Services will be held September 29 at Grace Baptist of Germantown. Viewing will be at 9 a.m. Services will follow at 10. Burial will be in Mt. Lawn Cemetery.
Alston is survived by his wife of 62 years, Marilyn Alston; son, Craig E.F. Alston; daughter, M. Suzanne Hodges; son-in-law, Keith L. Hodges; grandchildren, Cameron and Kendall Hodges; nieces, Ayana Sellers (Peter) Melva Thompson (H. Lee) and Wendi Baker; nephews, Vince Baker (Marcia), Bryant Roberts, Wendell Roberts and Floyd M. Davis (Avis); grandnieces, Tracy Gray (Kwame), Tashira Sellers and Brandi Harvey; grandnephews, Byron Sellers, Travis Sellers (Nine) and Larry Perry; and other relatives and friends.