Phyllis Lunceford tries to treat people the way she would like to be treated

By WILLIAM WRIGHT william.wright@clevelandbanner.com
Posted 5/17/17

When kindness is so much a part of a person that it’s reflected in their face, you know you are in the presence of the exception. That’s the feeling you get when you meet Phyllis Lunceford, a …

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Phyllis Lunceford tries to treat people the way she would like to be treated

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When kindness is so much a part of a person that it’s reflected in their face, you know you are in the presence of the exception. That’s the feeling you get when you meet Phyllis Lunceford, a soft-spoken woman of manners who mirrors a bygone era of women groomed to be ladies.

Lunceford conducts herself in such a graceful way that she encourages better social behavior in those she interacts with, inadvertently bringing out proper etiquette in others. This would not surprise those who know Lunceford, since she worked for years at the Athens Utility Board in the human resources department.

“My realm of expertise is in human resources,” Lunceford says. “I was very fortunate to have a great boss in (general manager) Eric Newberry. We worked well together. I would say we complemented each other very well.”

As director of management services her skills in dealing with people professionally, empathetically and courteously were always on display up until the day she retired after 30 years of service. Now, Lunceford has moved to Cleveland, leaving Athens to be closer to her sister, where she is adjusting to a new life after the loss of two family members.

“I really wasn’t ready to retire, but my husband, Stan, became ill,” she explained. “I was blessed to have some months with him. He passed in July of 2014. We were married 22 years. Then in March 2015, my mother, Lucille Morrow, passed away. It was difficult. Since I had no family in Athens, it was extremely important to my mother and my husband for me to be close to family. So I moved to Cleveland to be closer to my sister Janice Neyman. I live right next door to her.”

In August 2016, Lunceford came to work at Morningside of Cleveland, a five-star assisted living center for seniors. Her role as business office manager fits her personality and professional appearance, as she is the first smiling face most people see as they enter the facility.

She said, “When this job became available, I think it was an opportunity for me to be with such lovely people. The residents here are just fantastic. The staff I work with are incredible.”

Making the move from The Friendly City of Athens to Cleveland — The City With Spirit — was an easy transition for Lunceford, whose family lived in Cleveland when she was a child.

“My parents lived in Cleveland many years ago. I went to Blythe Avenue School and to Allen Elementary School,” Lunceford recalled. “They moved from Cleveland in 1962.”

After 45 years, Lunceford is settling back in Cleveland, adjusting to a new life and coping with the same concerns that most people are.

“Everyone is concerned about the economy,” Lunceford said. “We’re in some times that are distressing. You hear so much going on over on foreign soils. I feel like everyone is thinking about each passing day — especially if you’re watching the news.”

Whatever the future holds, Lunceford said she considers herself blessed — having fond memories of her mother and her husband. When asked how she would like to be remembered, she responded, “I want people to remember that I was kind. I tried to treat people the way I wanted to be treated, and when they saw me I tried to have a smile on my face and be as positive as I possibly could.”

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