The Flournoy Family

The Flournoy Family

Luella Kelley Flournoy is the matriarch of the Flournoy family. Luella was born and raised and she lived and died in Micanopy, Florida. She met Otis Flournoy of Otter Creek, Florida during a baseball game at the Micanopy Negro Ballfield in 1939, the same ballfield the town uses for sports today. As his community’s baseball team played against Micanopy’s baseball team; Otis didn’t strike out. Otis and Luella began their family in 1940 and that union produced eight children; Odessa, Lucille, Otis, Charlie, Beulah, Orian, Joyce and Melvin.

During the 1940’s and 1950’s, children of large Black families were sometimes separated for the sake of caring for the children. Relatives would step in and take a child to live with them in order to make life more manageable for the parents. The eldest daughter Odessa was living with Luella’s parents and Lucille was living with Otis’s relatives, but their mother Luella did not like this arrangement. She went to her husband and told him, “I want all of my children under one roof.” Otis immediately gathered his tools to begin building a house for his wife and children at 352 Church Street. The home still stands today.

When the Flournoy family moved into their home in 1952, it was a gray, 3 bedroom house with no interior walls. Over time they added enclosed bedrooms, doors and closets. The parents bedroom was up front, the girls’ bedroom was in the middle and the boys bedroom was in the back of the house. They later added a screened in front porch and the hoe became the cozy setting for a Black family of ten to thrive in.

And thrive they did.

The Flournoy children watched their hard working parents care for their family and the community around them too. Besides being a very involved father, Otis held a number of jobs including school bus driver, truck driver, he was the community handyman and he worked for Franklin Crate Mills. Luella did some field work picking vegetables from other people’s fields and she also worked at the Franklin Crate Mill.

Luella was known as the first Black poll worker in Micanopy, promoting the importance of the Black vote. She created the first Meals on Wheels program to feed Micanopy senior citizens. She was also an avid gardener. She loved her plants like they were her children. She never purchased plants, she always grew them from seedlings and nurtured them, being sure to bring them all inside if there was ever a cold snap. She regarded every action in life as a tribute to the God she served as a Christian. She was a devoted member of the Mt. Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.

They wanted their children to experience more than they did so they instilled in them the values of a good work ethic, solid education and a firm believe in Christianity. The boys operated a lawncare business and gave the money to their parents for household expenses, while the girls were expected to use all of their energy to advance academically.

Each of the children were responsible for helping their immediate younger sibling with their schoolwork. Because of this responsibility to tutor, all of the children became natural educators which followed them for the rest of their lives.

There was a lot of studying going on in the Flournoy household but there was also a lot of fun. They didn’t need to find neighbors or friends to play with, they already had their own troupe. The kids played many baseball games out in the front yard. They would shoot marbles in the street, and play football. The children often divided themselves into two teams called The Upper Four (Odessa, Lucille, Otis and Charlie) and The Lower Four (Beulah, Orian, Joyce and Melvin). The boys would play sports while the girls were the cheerleaders.

Every evening meal was a treat with such a large family gathering. Dinners of lima beans, rice and cornbread were the norm, but on Sundays the family enjoyed fried chicken and potato salad or Luella’s special spaghetti.

After the children were adults and had moved on in life, the Flournoy family sold a portion of their land to the Micanopy Area Cooperative School.

Otis Flournoy passed away in 1990 and Luella joined him in glory in 2008. Before Luella passed away she had been living with their daughter Beulah in Deland, Florida. It was a Friday when she said to Beulah, “I am ready to go home.” Beulah honored her request and made sure she was back in her family home in Micanopy by that evening. Luella passed away in the home that nourished her family in Micanopy that Sunday evening.

The Flournoy Children

Odessa Flournoy McClendon – Deceased – First female President of the Christian Jerusalem Baptist Association. She was an educator. She had a nursing degree and came back to provide guidance for medical care for Micanopy residents. She retired as a LPN nurse.

Lucille Flournoy Rhim – Lives in Gainesville. She was active in tutoring children in Micanopy and retired as a Registered Nurse.

Otis Flournoy – Lives in Colorado. Vietnam era veteran. Retired computer software engineer.

Charlie Flournoy -Lives in Gainesville. He is an entrepreneur and business owner. He is an Educator. Civic and community involved.

Beulah Flournoy – Lives in Deland, Florida. She is an Educator and Attorney at Law. Civic and community involved.

Orian Flournoy – Lives in Gainesville, Florida. He is an Educator, Community and Civic Advocate, Retired Military Veteran and Retired Pastor.

Joyce I. Flournoy Benjamin – Lives in Alberqueue, New Mexico. She is an Educator who has devoted more than 30 years to teaching Native American children.

Melvin Flournoy – Lives in Gainesville. He is a Community and Civic Advocate, Educator and Retired Principal and Football coach.

One Response to “The Flournoy Family

  • Luflossia Flournoy
    1 year ago

    This is a beautiful and well written article of my Grandparents, I am featured in this picture and the eldest daughter and child of Orian A Flournoy.
    Thank you