Deseree Mitchell Liddell

Special Honorary Achievement

Deseree Mitchell-Liddell was born on October 15, 1925, in Lexington, Mississippi. She graduated from Ambrose High School in 1943 and attended Jackson State and Mississippi Valley State. Deseree taught grades K-8 in a one-room school in Mississippi. She married the late William Liddell in 1949 and had seven children: Harold, Ron, Abbie, Deseree, Sandra and Sharon. She moved to Ravenna in 1951, becoming a resident of Skeels Allotment. She taught low-income children in the first Portage County Head Start Program and at the Friendship House Nursery School in Ravenna.

Deseree was instrumental in helping to get water, sewer, natural gas lines and streetlights in the Skeels and McElrath Allotments. She was also instrumental in getting African American administrators in the Ravenna School System. In the 1960’s, she started a youth group and a senior citizens club in her home. In 1969, with the support of a small group of Portage County residents, she began the Portage County Welfare Rights Organization to lend support to families receiving welfare benefits. The organization encouraged them to seek employment and education. In the early 70’s, she became the Executive Director for the Skeels Neighborhood Center, a one room building created by the CAC. In 1980, the dream became a reality and the Skeels Vernon L. Mathews Community Center was built through the same Portage County Community Block Grant. In 2000, the.same funding allowed an addition to be added. Deseree retired in 1990, from the Skeels VLM Community Center as the Senior Citizens Coordinator and is still very active at the Center. She volunteers with. the youth program and is the recording secretary of the Skeels Senior Citizens Club. In 1991; a group of community residents founded the Deseree Liddell Minority Scholarship Fund in her honor. It is for minority students from the Ravenna School System. A scholarship is given to a senior each year to help further their education.

Her Motto: “The higher you climb–the broader the view.”

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