After gifting everyone she met with warmth and laughter for more than a century, Rosa L. Benton (née Linder) passed away peacefully at home and gained her eternal reward on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Just three months shy of her 102nd birthday, Rosa was forever young at 101-years-old.
Born July 13, 1920, in Atlanta, Georgia, Rosa made Ohio her lifelong home after her father and mother, Henry Linder and Mary Tinsley, a tailor and teacher respectively, joined the Great Migration and moved to Cleveland when she was six-years-old. After graduating from Central Senior High School, Rosa returned to the South for her post-secondary education. In 1942, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Spelman College. She pledged Delta Sigma Theta at that historically Black college for women and was active in the Cleveland Spelman Club and Delta chapter throughout her lifetime. Rosa continued her education at The Atlanta University School of Social Work, earning a Master’s degree in 1944. Even before she graduated, she was already making a professional name for herself by accepting a three-year appointment at the Child Welfare Board in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. For decades, Rosa, a career social worker, helped families through the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court system. Although she stood at only 5’1,” Rosa used every inch of her small, but mighty frame to champion families and protect Ohio’s kids.
Rosa’s life cannot be fully described without understanding her relationship with her younger sister, Charlotte. Approximately “1,020,860 minutes apart,” by Charlotte’s estimation, the sisters were often mistaken for twins, but should be more aptly characterized as each other’s shadows. They attended both Spelman and The Atlanta University School together before returning home to support and serve Ohio families. Together, they joined Antioch Baptist Church in Cleveland, at early ages, where they demonstrated their quiet faith in Christ and expanded their dutiful commitment to service beyond their careers. At Antioch, Rosa was involved in the Wilson Circle, the History Committee, the Loaves and Fishes Outreach Ministry, the church choir, the Women’s and Senior Ministries, and the Board of Trustees. Every first Sunday for 18 years, she and her sister cared for young children in the church nursery. So many of their charges grew up to lovingly call her, “Aunt Rosa.”
She was well-known for her dry sense of humor and natural ability to tell a good joke. Rosa charmed many, whether an individual or an entire audience, with her comedic timing and love of laughter. She was fiercely independent and maintained an active lifestyle well after her 101st birthday.
Rosa is preceded in death by her parents, Henry Linder and Mary Tinsley; husband, Arthur Benton; sister, Charlotte Perry; and niece, Gail Booker Peterson. She leaves to mourn, step-daughter, Antoinette Stoufflet (Brian) and family of Liberty Hills, TX; brother-in-law, Rev. Edward T. Haggins of Warrensville Heights, OH; and a host of devoted nieces, nephews, great-nieces and -nephews, cousins, sorors, and friends.
Rosa will be remembered on Thursday, April 21, 2022, at E.F. Boyd & Son Funeral Home, 2165 East 89th Street, Cleveland, OH. A Delta Sigma Theta Omega Omega service will begin at 11 a.m. The family will receive friends at 11:30 a.m., and a memorial service will begin at 12 noon.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Rosa’s name to the Senior Ministry at Antioch Baptist Church, 8869 Cedar Avenue, Cleveland, OH, 44106.