The mother of longtime Chicago lesbian activist Vernita Gray has died. Fran "Toots" Hairston, born April 4, 1932, died Nov. 24, 2016. Her memorial was Dec. 3 at Calvary Baptist Church of Glenwood, Illinois.
Gray, who died in 2014, was very close to her mother, especially in Vernita's final years of life battling cancer. Friends say that when Vernita died, her mother's heart was broken.
Fran, born in Shuqualak, Mississippi and educated in Chicago Public Schools, had just one child, Vernita, on Dec. 8, 1948. She worked as a sales representative in several Chicago stores, including Sears and Marshall Field's.
She was preceded in death by two siblings, Alzada Christan Carr and Eleanor Nash. She is survived by her husband of 60 years, Howard; two sisters Voncille Cox and Sabrina ( Tommie ) Johnson; three bothers, T.C. ( Beverly ) Christian Jr., Taft ( Marie ) Christian, and Charles ( Ruby ) Christian; 10 nieces, 12 nephews, a host of great-nieces and nephews, great-great-nieces and nephews, and many other relatives and friends.
Contributions would be gratefully accepted to the Vernita Gray LGBT Youth Fund, www.crossroadsfund.org/content/vernita-gray-lgbtq-youth-fund-grant .