Mayor Farley receives a standing ovation at her retirement party as she is surrounded by guests
By Tracey Artis
Photos by Easley Blessed Photography
The retirement of the Village of Woodlawn, Ohio, Mayor Susan Upton Farley on December 17, was celebrated by the community in grand style at the Ramada Inn in Sharonville on December 22 following her many years of community service.
Mayor Farley, who was born and raised in Woodlawn, is a trailblazer. Her years of community service have set her apart as a mover and a shaker in the Cincinnati area.
Mrs. Farley served as mayor five four-year terms for a total of 20 years, and she served on council for seven years before that.
She became the first African American mayor of the Village of Woodlawn in 1992 and served for 12 years prior to being reelected mayor and sworn in on January 2012 (at the age of 71), when she served two more terms before her recent retirement.
Highlights of her role as mayor include a visit to South Africa with the National Conference of Mayors Inc. in 2003 and organizing the Mayor’s Walk for the American Diabetes Association. She was a member of the World Conference of Mayors and the National Conference of Black Mayors.
With a passion for the youth, she spearheaded programs, including the Summer Youth Initiative Strategies Program for 400 youth from 26 states in collaboration with the National Conference of Black Mayors. She was also a Hamilton County juvenile referee from 1994-2004.
Prior to becoming mayor, she served on the council for seven years. In addition, she was the village manager for the City of Lincoln Heights from 2006 and 2008.
A retiree from Proctor & Gamble, Susan Upton Farley has held numerous board positions, including serving on the board of the Alzheimer’s Association, where she served from 2005 to 2008; Volunteers of America, where she served from 2005 to 2008: the Woodlawn Athletic Boosters Association; as well as the Princeton High Schools Superintendent’s Advisory Board. A great asset to the local community as well as abroad, during follow-up mission trips to Africa, Farley visited Nigeria where she adopted a school in 1999 and 2000.
She is a member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Woodlawn, where she has served as president of the Missionary Board. She is also a member of the Red Hats Society and a former member of the Woodlawn 50 Plus Club.
Of her many accomplishments, she said, “My greatest accomplishments have been my passion for youth and seniors. I believe that our youth are our right now and our seniors must be cared for, have housing and be respected for blazing trails. My children and grandchildren mean the world to me, and I am grateful for the support from them, my extended family and friends.’’
The retirement celebration participants included Courtis Fuller, master of ceremonies; and the Rev. Damon Lynch Jr., keynote speaker. Mrs. Farley received proclamations from State Representative Sedrick Denson, Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus, Mount Zion Baptist Church in Woodlawn, and a written letter from Rev. Otis Moss Jr., former pastor at the church. Others came to the microphone to share stories about Mayor Farley and her contributions to the community and their lives. They included Princeton City Schools’ Superintendent Tom Burton, school board members Mary Cleveland and Gina Ruffin Moore, Bishop Bobby Hilton of Word of Deliverance Church, historian, author Bill Parrish and others.
Awards and recognitions include being named an Urban League Lion, Dada Rafaki honoree/Annie Ruth, Nefertiti (The Cincinnati Herald) honoree, I Hear Music honoree; MLK day honoree given by The Voices of The Valley/2018; Princeton City Schools Distinguished Alumni Recipient/Inaugural Class; grand marshal of Princeton City Schools homecoming parade 2019. She also received an award from President Barack Obama.
The event was given by Mayor Farley’s six children: Craig Farley, Alyson Farley, William (Larry) Farley, Tracey Farley-Artis, Dwight Farley and Mark Farley. Other event hosts included Deborah Upton Rhodes and Laverne Griffith.
Ed Thomas and The Art Gore Jazz Trio provided live entertainment.