Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Activist found dead at home

Grandson charged in killing of College Hill's Edgar Pillow

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COLLEGE HILL - Neighborhood residents and friends Tuesday mourned the loss of Edgar Pillow, a longtime community activist and writer.

Pillow, 78, was found dead Sunday morning in his home on Cedar Avenue in College Hill. Police have arrested his 19-year-old grandson, Michael Meridy Jr., and charged him with murder.

Police responded to the residence about 6:30 a.m. Sunday after a neighbor reported Pillow's newspapers had been piling up and a foul odor was coming from the home. According to records, Pillow was killed about a week before being found by police. A neighbor said Meridy lived with Pillow off and on over the years. Investigators did not release a cause of death Tuesday.

Pillow, who was retired, was known throughout the city as a civil rights advocate. He was a guest editorial writer for The Cincinnati Herald and was syndicated in African-American newspapers across the country. He was director of the Mobilization of Economic Resources Board - a 1960s civil rights organization - and a founding member of the Cincinnati Black United Front. Pillow attended New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Carthage and was actively involved in community issues.

Pillow was preceded in death by his wife. He has two sons who live out of town.

News of his death stunned the quiet city neighborhood of more than 15,000. Members of the community paid their respects to Pillow at Tuesday's meeting of the College Hill Forum with a moment of silence.

"We're all shocked. We're all mourning his loss," said Karen F. Dudley, president of the College Hill Forum and Pillow's next-door neighbor. "We realize we've lost an important community asset. He was a mentor to me and definitely provided me with lots of guidance as I took on issues of importance to College Hill."

Dudley described Pillow as a "gentle giant" who shied away from television cameras in favor of working behind the scenes.

"It puts a lump in your throat. It's like being punched in the chest," said the Rev. Damon Lynch III, president of the Black United Front. "Edgar was a man of experience and wisdom who lent his talents as a writer to the struggle (for racial justice) in the city. He will be missed."

Rev. Damon Lynch Jr., pastor of New Jerusalem Baptist Church, said he was working with the family to arrange a funeral service, which will be at his church.


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