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Cleoford (Zeke) Forbes dies, served as Clerk of Courts

News Desk | 5/28/2014, 10:04 a.m.
Zeke became the personal bailiff to the Honorable Clarence L. Gaines of the Cleveland Municipal Court in September 1974. He ...

The celebration of the life of Cleoford Forbes, fondly known as “Zeke” will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 31, 2014, at Celebration Methodist Church, 771 East 260th Street in Euclid, Ohio. Services will be preceded by the family hour at 10 a.m. A wake will be held from 6-8 p.m. Friday, May 30 at E.F. Boyd & Son Funeral Home at 2165 East 89th Street in Cleveland.

Zeke Forbes, 89, died on May 24 at the Elizabeth Severance Prentiss Nursing Home.

He was born Sept. 10, 1924.

Growing up in Memphis, he attended Manassas High School where he met his future wife, Mary Alice. From this union five children were born: Clifford Alvin Forbes, Alfred Forbes (who preceded him in death), Alfredia Forbes-Hubbard, Eleanor Forbes-Shelton and Anthony Craig Forbes.

After graduation, Zeke moved to Cleveland in 1942 with only a suitcase and a dream. Here, he became a lifelong member of Werner United Methodist Church (now Celebration United Methodist Church). He served on the Usher Board, Trustee Board and the United Methodist Men’s Organization. He was also a major force in building Everlasting Baptist Church.

Zeke became the owner of the Keystone Tavern located on 66th Street and Wade Park Avenue in 1961. It soon became a community gathering place for lifelong relationships. He worked at Willard Storage Battery in the Maintenance Department.

Zeke introduced William “Bill” Sweeney to his brother George and the political journey began from a share cropper’s son to a Cleveland legend.

Zeke became the personal bailiff to the Honorable Clarence L. Gaines of the Cleveland Municipal Court in September 1974. He served there for three years. In 1977, Zeke was appointed Administrative Assistant to Jerome F. Krakowski, Clerk of Cleveland Municipal Court.

Upon the death of Krakowski, the municipal judges appointed Zeke to the position of Clerk on April 11, 1986. While soft-spoken and keeping a low profile, Zeke was known as one of the most effective political organizers in the City of Cleveland. Politicians throughout the state of Ohio have been aided by him. He has lectured at Alabama A & M University, Cleveland State University and Cuyahoga Community College. He has also been the Men’s Day speaker at several churches in the Greater Cleveland area.

He organized the Phillips Avenue Street Club and the Ward 27 Political Democratic Club, which later became Ward 20. Zeke was a member of the N.A.A.C.P. executive board. He was also a member of the executive board of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, The Fourteenth District Civic League and The Ninth Ward Democratic Club.

He leaves to mourn his beloved wife Mary Alice Forbes, his four children: Clifford A. Forbes of Cleveland Ohio, Alfredia Forbes-Hubbard of West Hempstead, N.Y.; Eleanor Forbes Shelton of East Cleveland, Ohio; Anthony C. Forbes of Cleveland, Ohio; and son-in-law David L. Hubbard, West Hempstead, N.Y. Zeke also leaves his beloved brothers Joseph A. Forbes and George L. Forbes, who was his brother and his best friend. He also leaves his special niece, Mary Jean Evans.

He leaves his loving grandchildren, Quentin Antonio Forbes, David William Alfred Hubbard, Jessica Monique Forbes, Wesley Wilson Shelton, Erica Renee McIntosh and Stacy Lynn McIntosh and a host of nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends who loved him very much.

“The man you can trust is the man who is simple, direct and sincere. The man you can trust, in the long run, is not necessarily the clever or the charming man, but the man who keeps his word.”