Walt “Wali” Neil, age 66, took his Solar transition around the sun peacefully on Sunday, June 21, 2020, during the Summer Solstice.
Wali, was born February 19, 1954 in Columbus and was an Ohio mural and visual artist, singer, drummer, educator and citizen of the world. His murals have been a part of the community landscape in Columbus, Cleveland, and Euclid, Ohio; Atlanta, Georgia; and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. He was an accomplished vocalist, drummer, and teacher of the arts. He believed in the goodness of humanity and became a citizen of the world, but a lover of the African Diaspora where he taught art and music courses in the fishing villages of Ngor in Senegal, West Africa, and was a consultant to Harambee II, Wholistic Stress Control Institute in Atlanta, Georgia. His art has been seen at the King Art Complex in Columbus; he worked as an artist-in-residence at the African American Museum, and was a participant artist in the Chalk Festival at the Cleveland Museum of Art and has shown his work at both Cleveland and Euclid City Halls and libraries. Several of his murals can be found at the Shore Cultural Centre in Euclid, Ohio where he resided with his beloved wife, Denise Goodrich Neil for 19 years.
Wali is an “Artist of the Spirit” who majored in commercial art. His mentors were the likes of inspired Columbus artists Tom Pannell, Ed Colston and Bill Agnew who all ushered his consciousness into the most challenging profession on earth… “being an African American Artist in America!!!”
Wali has joined the Ancestors in the cloud of witnesses and will continue to guide our paths. His Spirit lives on in his Art and the vibrations of his music are still moving out in the Cosmos!
Walter R. Cates Sr. was well known around the corridors of Columbus City Hall, regularly speaking on behalf of forgotten Near East Side neighborhoods. One of his nicknames was “The Mayor of Main Street.”
For years, Walter was the Chair of the Main Street Business Association, which he managed out of his office on East Main Street. He is credited with advocating for every streetlight or sidewalk improvement that he could wring out of City Hall for the challenged Main Street corridor on the Near East Side.
During the 1970s, Cates worked for the NAACP. during the time when it was successful in suing the Columbus school district to bring about desegregation and that changed hiring practices for Columbus police and fire, bringing about more minority representation. Over the years, Cates also served on the boards of the Columbus/Franklin County Affordable Housing Trust Corp. and the Community Metropolitan Area Community Action Organization.
Former Mayor Michael Coleman called him "one of the greatest hellraisers and activists in the history of the city". “He had a booming voice, he could shake people up. And frankly, it was needed over the course of 20-25 years,” Coleman said.
1930 - 2020
Rhoda Yvonne Church, 89, Columbus, Ohio, formerly from Plain City, was the consummate Jazz Lady! Her smile could be seen at every set. Born December 2, 1930 in London Ohio to Herbert and Mary Pauline McNeal and was the second of four children. She married Benjamin Church August 27, 1949 and was a hard-working, caring mother to seven children. Rhoda found joy in raising her large family, helping others, writing poetry and listening to music. She became a regular on the jazz scene in Ohio and was affectionately dubbed "The Jazz Lady" by friends in the Columbus area. She enjoyed hearing her favorite musicians, amassing her large collection of music, along with great memories over the years of enjoying live music. Her familiar sayings, telephone chats, hand-written letters, her toe tappin' and wrist snappin' appreciation of good jazz will be remembered and deeply missed by all those who knew and loved her.
Percussionist Ron Hope has been a mainstay of the Hot Times Festival and a cornerstone of the local jazz (and beyond) community for decades. He has played with with many greats, including Arnett Howard, Umar Bin Hassan, Bobby Floyd, Foley, as well as his own groups. Hope has said that he sees his music as a type of outreach: “I’ve been a musician around town for many, many years. Music is now like a ministry for me, to give hope to people who feel like they’re hopeless. That’s what I’m doing for myself and for everyone else who wants to listen.”