Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Hugh A. Frost

Image Credit: Delta Heritage Project Exhibits|Hugh A. Frost

Hugh Frost was a prominent Black leader in Youngstown during the years I grew up there. He was a member, and eventually vice president of the Youngstown Board of Education during the years I was going through Youngstown Schools. At the time I was a student at Youngstown State, he was an assistant to the president at Youngstown State. Three times he ran for mayor of the City of Youngstown. He made history during his first run in 1967 as the first Black Republican candidate for mayor of a U.S. City. He also served in leadership roles in a number of community organizations.

He was born in Youngstown, September 29, 1926, the son of Anthony L. and Celie Jones Frost. He graduated from The Rayen School. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War Two and then attended Bluffton College, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in social sciences, lettering in football, basketball, and baseball, being invited to try out for several professional teams (Rams, Browns, Eagles, and Colts). He went on to earn a Masters Degree in Education and Psychology and pursued additional coursework at Western Reserve University, University of Dayton, and Youngstown State.

After a short stint in 1955 as membership secretary of the YMCA in Indianapolis, he returned to Youngstown in 1956 to serve as the Executive Director of the McGuffey Centre on Youngstown’s East Side, where he served until 1969, presiding over the construction of and move to its current facilities. He led a team of 17 staff and 200 volunteers engaged in a variety of community programs.

In 1963, he was the first Black member elected to the Youngstown Schools Board of Education, eventually serving as vice president. He took his position as assistant to the President of Youngstown State in 1969, serving under several presidents until 1984 to serve as an employment consultant. In 1987 Governor Richard Celeste appointed him to the regional Workers Compensation Review Board.

He served on a long list of local and national boards including the YMCA, the McGuffey Centre, and the Associated Neighborhood Centers. He was on the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He also served on a variety of community boards including the Red Cross, Youngstown Society for the Blind, Youngstown Playhouse, Mahoning County Drug Programs, Inc, and advisory boards of the Youngstown Speech and Hearing Center and the Salvation Army.

He received an equally long list of awards from the Youngstown Junior Chamber of Commerce (1961-1962), Rotary Club (1969) Bluffton College Outstand Alumnus (1970) and Hall of Fame (1975), Urban Family of the Year (1971), Buckeye Elks Lodge outstanding civic award (1973). He also received commendations from the Ohio Senate, Youngstown City Council, Youngstown City Schools, and Youngstown Area Urban League.

He married D. Lillian Benson on September 30, 1950. They had three sons and a daughter. Lillian was a school teacher at Lincoln Elementary, Madison Elementary and served as guidance counselor at East High School, South High School and Choffin Career Center. She was active as a member of the Mother’s Club at the McGuffey Centre, a Cub Scout Den Mother, the Northeast Ohio Homeowners Association and AKA Sorority. They were active members of Rising Star Baptist Church.

Hugh Frost died on July 23, 1998 in a one car accident on Route 616 in Coitsville Township. The reason for the accident was unknown, the car going off the road, hitting two trees. He was buried in the Tod Homestead Cemetery, where Lillian joined him in 2016.

He served as a community organizer, an educational leader, and political leader. He was widely sought out to serve on various boards, a recognition of his status in the community. Even though never elected as mayor, he made history in his 1967 candidacy. He chose community service over a possible sports career. His family life was recognized by the community. He not only served the Black community but all of Youngstown, including this Youngstown Schools and Youngstown State student. Thank you, Mr. Frost.

To read other posts in the Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown series, just click “On Youngstown.” Enjoy!

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