CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM- SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio-Cuyahoga County Democratic Party affiliate Lang Dunbar Jr., also a member of the county Democratic party's executive committee and a long time union advocate, died Friday night, Feb 17 in his sleep at his home in Shaker Heights after a battle with cancer. He was 81.
Memorial services are Friday, March 3 at 3 pm at Antioch Baptist Church in Cleveland, a press release from Cleveland NAACP President Michael Nelson Sr. said.
Dunbar was a member of the Cleveland NAACP executive board and Nelson said its members are grieving his death with "heavy hearts."
City of Cleveland Community Relations Board Director Blaine Griffin, a former vice president of the county Democratic party and a protege of three-term Black mayor Frank Jackson who, this year, is seeking reelection to an unprecedented fourth term, praised Dunbar as community oriented, and said he was "ole school."
"He was tough, tenacious, pugnacious and radical, yet he was loyal, sincere, compassionate, and caring, and most of all, he was my friend," said Griffin.
A Shaker Heights precinct committeeman, Dunbar lived in Shaker Heights with his wife Gladys, a former Cuyahoga County Board of Elections employee who worked in the legal and community relations departments there, and a trained lawyer and former Common Pleas Court judicial clerk.
Like his longtime wife, he loved politics, and Antioch Baptist Church, a prominent Black east side church that will host the memorial next month and where Gladys, his third wife, still remains active.
In addition to his wife Gladys, Dunbar Jr. is survived by five grown children; Lang Dunbar III, Deborah Kinds and Denise Cannon, all three of Cleveland, Melissa Brunner of California, and Eric Dunbar of Youngstown, Ohio.
Though he was a resident of Shaker Heights when he died, he lived in Cleveland most of his life, worked briefly for Cuyahoga County, and retired as a job coordinator for the United Labor Agency.
His oldest son, Lang Dunbar III, told Cleveland Urban News.Com that his father was a strong labor man who pushed his children to have a work ethic and to be independent.
"My dad, whom I got to really know when I was grown, told us to work and be independent and he was a strong union man," said Dunbar III. " He supported unions and always went to meetings."
The younger Dunbar, 51, met Blaine Griffin when Blaine's father, Ray Griffin, was his high school assistant football coach in Youngstown, and Blaine, then in elementary school, was a ball boy at football games.
Blaine Griffin, a Youngstown native, said that he knew Dunbar III in the 80s and met his father in the 90s.
All three, Blaine, and the younger and older Dunbar, are former president Obama supporters.
"My father and I both worked on the Obama campaign," said Dunbar III of the nation's first Black president who won the presidency in 2008 with strong support from Black voters nationwide and in the pivotal state of Ohio, Cuyahoga County his Democratic stronghold, and the largest of 88 counties statewide. "My dad loved Obama and said he is a champion for all people, and not just some of the people, including the non-traditional people.
And the younger Dunbar did not hold his tongue in saying that his dad had his struggles in life like many Black men that seek to overcome the obstacles of institutional racism in a country that traditionally has a double standard for people of color, Black men in particular.
"I saw my dad come back from a low point in his life to overcome, and I will miss him," said Dunbar III.
Charles E. Bibb Sr, a former East Cleveland city councilman and president of the both the greater Cleveland Carnegie Rountable and the Ohio 8th House District Black Caucus, said he lost a friend, and a fellow Democratic activist.
"He was a supporter of the Carnegie Roundtable, a Cuyahoga County Democratic political activist, an avid bowler, and a sports fan of football, basketball and baseball," said Bibb Sr. "And LeBron James was his favorite athlete."