Friday, May 10, 2002

Obituary: Frederick T. Suggs Sr., magazine publisher

He also was civic activist, coach

By Rebecca Billman,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Frederick T. Suggs Sr., founder and chief executive officer of Suggs Publications, died Tuesday of a heart attack at Good Samaritan Hospital.

        The North Avondale resident, publisher of Tri-State Talk and NIP magazines, was 81.

        Mr. Suggs was a photographer whose credits include pictures of Jackie Robinson taken for the Pittsburgh Courier in 1947. Mr. Robinson, the first African-American Major League Baseball player, was in Cincinnati to play at Crosley Field.

        Mr. Suggs had opened a photography studio on Linn Street in the West End after World War II. He founded NIP, which stands for “News In Pictures,” to promote the business in 1955.

        It evolved into a popular magazine that contained news and commentary, as well as recognition for achievements and descriptions of the black social scene.

        Mr. Suggs was also deeply involved in civic activities, especially for youth.

        In 1954, he formed the West End Knothole district that enabled hundreds of kids to compete in the city's amateur baseball program. Mr. Suggs also coached the West End Eagles baseball team for six years.

        In 1993, he decided to raise money for the 25-member Taft High School marching band. He told the Enquirer at the time that 100 students were turned away because there wasn't enough money for instruments or uniforms.

        So Mr. Suggs headed a drive that raised $12,000, and that enabled the band to expand to 85 members. Two years later, he raised money for the band to travel to the Tuskegee Institute to march in a homecoming parade.

        In 1979, Mr. Suggs helped found the YMCA's Black Achievers Program, which honored him with its first Legends Award in 2000.

        Last fall, Mr. Suggs ran for the Cincinnati Board of Education.

        Born in Florence, Ala., in 1920, he came to Cincinnati in 1942 to work as a busboy at Union Terminal. He left to take a job as a janitor at the Wright Aeronautical plant in Evendale, later became a lathe operator and by the war's end was a foreman.

        Mr. Suggs was a former president of the West End Community Council and the Wayfarer Club, and he was on the board of the Walnut Hills YMCA.

        Survivors include his wife, Barbara; a son, Fred Suggs Jr.; two daughters, Rose Marie Suggs-Spradley and Shirley Jane Suggs-Cheatham; a stepson, Terry Gatewood; two stepdaughters, Sandra Furr and Mischelle McClain; three brothers, Dock Suggs Jr., James Suggs and Clarence Suggs; a sister, Sara Mason; 17 grandchildren; nine step-grandchildren; and 26 great-grandchildren.

        Visitation is from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday at Bethlehem Baptist Church, 760 N. Fred Shuttlesworth Circle, North Avondale, followed by a Masonic service and the funeral. Burial is at Spring Grove Cemetery.


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