Former UAPB professor celebrates 100th birthday

Mildred F. Cross, former professor and chair of the Department of English and Foreign Languages at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, was recently honored with a grand banquet celebrating her 100th birthday.

Sponsored by her sister, Jackie Edwards of Birmingham, Ala., the banquet was held at Edwards’ church in Birmingham and attended by numerous family members and friends.

Charles Fancher, Cross’ brother, offered a very inspiring and touching tribute focusing on her unconditional love and support of family members, and other nieces and nephews offered musical tributes.

External to the family were Carolyn Blakely and Norma Cannon, both of whom shared their relationships with Cross. Cannon has been a very dear friend with the Cross family for many years and recounted the bond created among them over the years. She stressed the love and support extended to her and her family through the evolution of Cannon’s career as an attorney and judge.

Blakely is a former student and coworker with Cross. She shared the fact that Cross was not only her teacher, but also her role model. Her experiences in Cross’ classes and as a work study student for her validated Blakely’s decision to become an English major and ultimately an English teacher. After graduation, Blakely remained in contact with Cross, eventually returning to the university to work with her in the department of English, and continues to share a very close friendship with her.

St. John AME Church, of which the Crosses were members, sent a video of good wishes from the pastor and members of the church.

During her tenure at UAPB, Cross had an enormous positive impact on hundreds of students, many of whom still keep in touch with her. Her husband, Harry L. Cross, who recently died, served as the business manager at the university, and the auditorium in Caldwell Hall has been named in his honor.

Cross currently resides in Bessemer, Ala.