THE TERM "visionary" is often casually applied to community leaders, but in the case of Floyd W. Alston, the appellation is not only deserved, but might be considered inadequate.
Alston was a community leader, all right, but his "visions" led to extensive developments that transformed the beleaguered North Central Philadelphia community.
He also turned his attention and dedication to the city's public schools and served as president, vice president and member of the School District of Philadelphia Board of Education.
"For 10 years, Mr. Alston served the children of Philadelphia and the board with a great sense of care and distinction," said Pedro A. Ramos, chairman of the School Reform Commission. "We are grateful for the work he accomplished on behalf of our students."
Floyd Alston, who would have turned 87 next month, died Monday after a long illness.
He served from 1990 to 2005 as president of Beech Interplex, which was created in 1990 to bring together business, government and nonprofit entities to revitalize the depressed neighborhood around Cecil B. Moore Avenue.
"During his tenure with Beech, Alston partnered with various groups, including Temple University, and brought new investment to the community, assembling the resources that resulted in more than $500 million in private development, including new retail shops, restaurants and office space," the company said in a statement. "Beech companies have leveraged a total of more than $1 billion in public and private investment since 1990.
"Alston was a business visionary, neighborhood developer and public servant. His lifelong dedication as a community leader is an inspirational example for all Philadelphians."
Alston, a 1970 graduate of Temple, served in the Marine Corps in the South Pacific theater of World War II and returned for another tour of duty in the Korean War.
Over the years, his roles in business and community interests have included being president of First Pennsylvania Bank, president of HOPE Development Corp., manager for the Philadelphia Housing Authority, vice chairman of the Berean Federal Savings Bank, treasurer and member of the Philadelphia Tribune board of directors and treasurer of the African American Historical and Cultural Museum, now the African American Museum.
With Beech, he oversaw the development of thousands of homes in North Central Philadelphia, as well as the View complex at Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue that includes stores, a movie theater and apartments for Temple students.
As a Housing Authority manager, Alston ran the Richard Allen Homes and Raymond Rosen housing developments in North Philadelphia and the Abbotsford Homes in East Falls.
Alston was born in Philadelphia to Goldie Benton Alston and Isaac Alston. He was raised in North Philadelphia and graduated from Northeast Philadelphia High School.
He is survived by Marilyn Baker Alston, his wife of 62 years; a son, Craig E.S. Alston; a daughter, Suzanne Hodges, and two grandchildren.
Services: 10 a.m. Saturday at Grace Baptist Church, 25 W. Johnson St. Friends may call at 5 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday at the church.