YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – Mrs. Otha Lee Jennings, 86, of Youngstown, transitioned to eternal rest on Friday, July 2, 2021 at Mercy Health St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital.
Otha Lee Jennings was born to the late Thomas and Florine Watkins on August 23, 1934, in Indianola, Mississippi. She was the eldest of four children which is where she began her love for care taking and cooking.
Otha graduated in 1952 from North High School and went on to attend Youngstown State University. She graduated in 1954 from Beatrice School of Cosmetology and attended Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio with a degree in accounting.
She began her professional career as a teenager working for Watkins Construction Company which was owned by her father. Otha worked for the Youngstown Board of Education, Ohio Department of Taxation in Columbus, and was the first black woman to hold a position in the accounting department at Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company and worked there for many years.
In 1974, she developed the Kiddie Haven Early Childhood Preschool Center that expanded in 1981, to become Watkins Christian Academy a K-12 private school on the east side of Youngstown. In 1988, she engaged in a joint venture with her daughter Crystal and opened Little Lambs Christian Preschool in her home. In 1992, she decided to become a foster parent and in the same year she opened a home for at risk teenage girls and infants. Otha retired from her administrative duties after a long career serving children and families in August of 2012.
In May of 1969 she married the love of her life William Jennings. Both Otha and her husband were faithful members of Temple Emmanuel Seventh-day Adventist Church and were married for 32 years until his passing in 2001.
She enjoyed traveling, camping and feeding those in need.
She leaves to cherish her memory two loving daughters, Lesa Jennings and Crystal (Derrick) Moffett; two beautiful sisters, May Stewart and Ethel Searles, both of Youngstown and five stepchildren, Jim (Gloria) Gilmer, Russell Jennings, Sandra Jennings, Rosalyn Jennings, William (Terri) Jennings, Jr. She also leaves six adoring grandchildren, Sommer Womack, Catrice Moffett, Courtney Moffett and Sharlene Thomas, all of Youngstown, Cynthia (George) Wilson of Cleveland and Derrick Moffett II of Cincinnati; 18 wonderful great-grandchildren whom she loved dearly; four great-great-grandchildren who kept her on her toes and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Thomas and Florine Watkins; her husband, William Jennings; her son, Robert Jennings; her brother Thomas Watkins, Jr. and her grandson, Sterling Floyd.
Visitation will be 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 Noon on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, at the Temple Emmanuel SDA Church, 108 W. Indianola Avenue, Youngstown. Funeral services will follow at 12:00 Noon.
Due to the pandemic, guests are asked to wear masks and observe social distancing.
A service of Love and Dignity entrusted to the L. E. Black, Phillips & Holden Funeral Home.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Otha Lee Jennings, please visit our floral store.
A television tribute will air Monday, July 12 at the following approximate times: 7:10 a.m. on FOX, 12:22 p.m. on WKBN, 5:08 p.m. on MyYTV and 7:27 p.m. on WYTV.