Maysville's community has lost a pioneer in the fight for equal rights for African Americans with the passing of Amo Peters, who died Wednesday at the age of 97.
Peters made her mark on the Civil Rights movement not only in Maysville, but in Frankfort, when she became chairperson of the Maysville-Mason County Human Rights Commission in the 1960s and organized the first protest march in Frankfort. As an advocate for equality for minorities, Peters worked diligently for integration at local restaurants, the hospital, local theaters and other facilities.
Peters was a licensed practical nurse and the first black nurse to be employed at the former Hayswood Hospital. She rose through the ranks to become the night nurse in charge and later worked as coordinator for information and referral services, according to information provided by the family. She retired after 30 years as an LPN and when on to dedicate her time and energy to serving her community.
"She was, to me personally, a mentor. She always encouraged me and offered her support," said Terry Cunningham, state vice president of the Kentucky NAACP.
Cunningham said in her desire to better her community, Peters always encouraged everyone to exercise their right to vote and would work during election time making phone calls to registered voters.
"She was a matriarch of our community ... a wonderful person," Cunningham said.
In addition to her many civic duties, Peters was a member of Bethel Baptist Church for more than 60 years, where she served as a Sunday school teacher, president of the senior choir, president of the Women's Missionary Society and as a trustee of the administrative board.
In 1985, she was the recipient of the church's Woman of the Year service award.
In 1998, she was appointed by former Mayor Harriet Cartmell to serve on the Housing Authority of Maysville Board of Commissioners; she served on the board for 20 years, retiring in April 2008.
During her tenure with the board, she served as chairperson in 1992 and 1993. In recognition of her service to the authority, the board of commissioners dedicated the community center in her honor. Since then, the Amo Peters Community Center has served not only residents of the housing authority, but the community as a whole with its computer classes and other activities.
Jerry Orme, chairman of the board of commissioners said Peters was always there to serve her community and people looked to her for advice.
"She was an icon in the community, people looked up to her for advice. She was someone who people looked to for leadership ... she was a fine person who made good decisions," Orme said.
"Everything she did was for the good of the community," he said.
Among her civic activities, Peters was a member of the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program; Buffalo Trace Aging Council and served as its chairperson; served on the Mason County Red Cross Board; served on the boards of the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Fund, the Ad Hoc Committee to revitalize downtown Maysville, the Licking Valley Handicapped Board, the Comprehend Foster Grandparents board, the Buffalo Trace Senior Olympics Steering Committee and served as a volunteer for Hospice of Hope.
During November, 2009, Peters was included in the publication The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky by Paul A. Tenkotte and James C. Claypool.
In 1988, she was honored by the Alpha Nu Chapter of the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority. She was also named a Kentucky Colonel by Gov. Wallace Wilkinson in 1989.
Funeral services for Amo Peters will be at Bethel Baptist Church at 1 p.m. Thursday, June 3, 2010. Burial will follow at Green Acres Cemetery.
Visitation will be at the Amo Peters Community Center from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, June 2, 2010 and from 11 a.m. until time of service Thursday at the church.
Contact Marla Toncray at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 606-564-9091, ext. 275.
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