LocklearMrs. Senorita Locklear was born September 9, 1926 and served as one of Mary McLeod Bethune’s secretaries before becoming her private secretary in April of 1955. During her time as Mrs. Bethune’s private secretary, Locklear believed that Mrs. Bethune had a premonition of her death because of three things Mrs. Bethune did. First, on May 18th, Mrs. Bethune asked her if she was now familiar enough and if she could trust her. Locklear replied “Well I think so”, to which Mrs. Bethune said “Well good, because I’m going to be depending on you.” Locklear was promoted to be Bethune’s private and business secretary. Secondly, Mrs. Bethune directed Locklear to get Bethune’s will (previously dictated to a local lawyer Mr. William M. Cobb who started his business in 1925) so that she could make some changes and resign it.

At that very moment Mrs. Bethune felt some pain and followed Locklear’s advice ‘to walk it off’ in hopes the pain would go away. Mrs. Bethune had made some changes to the will, but never signed it before telling Locklear to put the will back in the safe. Thirdly Mrs. Bethune had Locklear read aloud the Rackman Holt biography (Doubleday Publishing) Locklear read aloud the whole thing until eventually Mary Divers, Mrs. Bethune’s mentee came in to take over for her. All three things happened May 18th, the day of Mrs. Bethune’s passing. Mrs. Senorita Locklear recalled that Mrs. Bethune’s last words to her were “I will see you in the morning”. On her way home, Locklear rushed back to campus upon hearing the loud ringing of the school bell. Mary McLeod Bethune had passed away.

Afterwards, Mr. Rodriguez became the director of the Foundation. Mrs. Senorita Locklear did not work as the secretary because there wasn’t enough money in the budget to support the position. So, Locklear left and went back to college. When Locklear first attended college from 1942 to 1944 Bethune Cookman College was still a two year institution. She was on the track of pursuing Math through school, but finished with a degree in Business Administration. Locklear explained that students used to march to the Sunday community meetings in blue and white, a “uniform” they wore so they would be identified as B-CC students on or off campus. The meetings were to raise money “so that the lights wouldn’t cut out”. Locklear recalled that the nearest beach [they] could go to was the Bethune Volusia Beach that Mrs. Bethune founded. [They] couldn’t go to Daytona Beach, but were allowed 14 miles away at Bethune Volusia Beach in New SmyrnaBeach, FL.

Later Mrs. Senorita Locklear served as secretary to the B-CC business manager, Paul Hyde. Locklear was “fortunate enough to serve as secretary to three of the four Presidents” - Mrs. Bethune, Richard V. Moore, and Oswald Perry Bronson, Sr. Locklear left B-CC once to work at the Space Center, but President Moore, needing a person in development requested Locklear come back. Moore retired and recommended Locklear to incoming President Bronson as a “strong person”. Locklear returned to the President’s office, staying for seven more years.

For more information, contact (fordj@cookman.edu)