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Library honors Cross’ memory

JACKSON – Even in death there’s love.

That fact was evident here Saturday morning at the Northampton County Memorial Library where three former county residents were fondly remembered, one of which having her portrait unveiled as a testament to her love for Northampton County and its public library.

The ceremony honored the late Ellen Ann Flythe Cross, a Northampton native who passed away in November of 2008. In her will, Flythe bequeathed the library a tidy sum of money, a portion of which was used to purchase a microfilm reader and printer.

As was her final wish, Flythe also wanted to honor her late mother and father – Ruby Fagg Flythe and Jesse Abner Flythe. That wish was granted with the unveiling of a plaque in their memory, one that will be on permanent display at the library.

Northampton County Librarian Barbara Davis welcomed those in attendance, especially the Flythe, Cross and Bowers families.

“The (Library) Board of Trustees and I are thankful for the donation,” Davis said. “We are greatly honored that Pete Cross, Ellen Ann’s stepson, chose to present our county with this wonderful gift. Therefore, the Board of Trustees of Northampton County Memorial Library chose to purchase a microfilm reader and printer with a portion of the funds which was given.”

The occasion was also recognized by Northampton County officials.

“On behalf of the Board of Commissioners, I am pleased to share in this special ceremony in recognizing and honoring the Cross/Flythe families,” said Northampton Commissioner Robert Carter. “These families have been anchored in Northampton County for many, many years and the community is certainly stronger to have such wonderful community spirited citizens. Mrs. Cross loved this county and this library. As the result of her love and dedication, a much-needed microfilm reader and printer have been purchased. I extend my most heartfelt appreciation and respect to the Cross family.”

Anne Bowers paid tribute to the Flythe family, saying that Ellen Ann’s intent with the donation was to support genealogy research in Northampton County through the library.

“Her interest in genealogy was sparked by the fact that her family roots run deep in the area,” Bowers said. “Ellen Ann worked with Norman Flythe to research family lines going back to the 1700’s and to the 1600’s in Virginia. Many of these names are familiar in Northampton County, including Sykes, Allen, Hill, Harris, Lewis and Grant. One of Ellen Ann’s ancestors built the original courthouse, replaced in 1851 by the current building.”

Bowers also noted that Ellen Ann, among the many “hats” she wore in service to her home county, served on the Northampton County Memorial Library Board.

“She was very close to all of us,” Bowers concluded. “We were really happy when she made the donation to the library because we all have kept our ties to Jackson and we feel this completes the circle.”

Also taking part in the ceremony was Pat Maddrey, a member of the Northampton County Memorial Library Board of Trustees. She read the plaque honoring Ruby and Abner Flythe, one inscribed with the words…“In loving memory of Ruby Fagg Flythe and Jesse Abner Flythe by their daughter, Ellen Ann Flythe Cross.”

Catherine Bowers Southworth, Fred Bowers and Stuart Bowers, each a great nephew or great niece of Ellen Ann, had the honor of unveiling her portrait.

Fred Bowers, formerly of Jackson now living in Asheville, said it came as no surprise to him that his late great aunt would leave such a generous donation in her will to the library.

“She was a very thoughtful and caring person,” he said. “She loved this place and it’s evident, even in death, that love remains strong based on the money she left to this library.”

Shirley Fields, a member of the Northampton County Memorial Library Board of Trustees, gave the invocation. Sandra Mallory and Ann Meadows provided special music.

In a special presentation, the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald placed on permanent loan to the library the microfilm of the Northampton County Times-News and Northampton News. Those reels date from 1955-1996.

In his closing remarks, Stephen Jackson, a member of the Library Board of Trustees, said, “I express my deepest appreciation for this monetary gift. I truly thank the Flythe, Cross and Bowers families.”

Jackson also shared news of a special project, saying that the library will receive $433,902 from Golden Leaf Foundation in addition to a $100,000 grant from the federal government for renovations to the facility.

“We will make this library a better place, one more effective for those that use this facility,” Jackson said later in an interview with the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.

Jackson went over those plans – closing in an existing patio on the west side of the library to make a computer room, handicap accessible restrooms, new wiring and lighting, and fixing the front entrance to make it friendlier for handicapped visitors, including the installation of automatic doors, and paving the parking lot.

Born in 1921, Ellen Ann Flythe Cross went on to graduate from Meredith College. She taught briefly before moving to New York City to work for Delta Airlines.

During World War II, she moved back to Jackson and was the Editor of the Jackson News (the predecessor of the Northampton News). She also worked in the Clerk of Court office.

After the war, Ellen Ann moved to Winston-Salem, working there for a radio station and for the Bowman Gray School of Medicine. She later moved to Greensboro where she worked in public relations for the Children’s Home Society and was a freelance book designer.

Ellen Ann was married twice – to Steve Frontis, who died in the 1990’s, and then to Bill Cross, who survives her.