‘Fierce advocate’ for community, attorney Marquis Street, dies

‘Fierce advocate’ for community, attorney Marquis Street, dies
December 08
04:25 2016



On Thursday, Dec. 15 at noon, the family, friends and colleagues of Greensboro Attorney Marquis Street will gather in the Dudley Room of the old Hayes-Taylor YMCA on East Market Street –where he was an active supporter for more than 30 years – to celebrate what many say was his selfless life of giving, community service, visionary leadership and loving.

Marquis D. Street, 70, passed away Sunday, Nov. 27, three months after being diagnosed last August with Stage IV metastatic lung cancer.

He was cremated Wednesday, Nov. 30.

Had he lived, Marquis and his wife, Sallie Melendez, would have celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary in March 2017.

During a long, committed and distinguished life, Attorney Street was the recipient of numerous honors and awards for his civic work, including a citation from the North Carolina Human Relations Commission signed by Gov. Jim Hunt; the Greensboro NAACP branch Supportive Service and Community Service Awards; and the Lifetime Service Award for Service to Youth from Brothers Organized to Save Others (BOTSO-Greensboro).

Born June 20, 1946, Marquis Street was a native of Greensboro, where he graduated from F. D. Bluford Elementary School, Lincoln Junior High School, and James B. Dudley High School –Class of 1964.

Street later earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in History as an Honor Student from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 1968. He joined the Army R.O.T.C. while there, earning the rank of Cadet Colonel, Brigade Commander. He also earned a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve.

“He put himself through [N.C.] A&T, working multiple jobs, being in the R.O.T.C., trying to scrape together $134 per semester it cost for him to go to school,” Sallie Melendez said.  “He was very focused.”

Street participated as a member of  Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Beta Epsilon Chapter (N.C. A&T) 1965; and Beta Epsilon Boule, Sigma Pi Phi Honorary Fraternity (inactive).

Upon graduation, Street was awarded a full academic scholarship to the University of Iowa College of Law, earning a Doctorate of Jurisprudence Degree in 1971, becoming licensed to practice law in his home state of North Carolina the following year.

Prior to establishing his own law firm in Greensboro in 1975, attorney Street served as Assistant to the Chancellor for Legal Affairs, and as an Assistant Professor of Political Science at his alma mater N.C. A&T University. He then joined the law firm of Frye, Johnson & Barbee in Greensboro as an associate from 1972-74. He later became Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor for Administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill until 1975.

“Marquis was a very able, very capable trial lawyer in personal injury law,” said Rev. Steve Allen, pastor of historic Shiloh Baptist Church in Greensboro, but also a former lawyer and colleague of Attorney Street for many years. “Everybody who knew Marquis knew he was always very well prepared. That was one of his trademarks. He was a very fierce advocate.”

Attorney Street practiced law for over 41 years..

Inspiring young people to work hard to lead productive, meaningful lives, Street devoted much of his time and energy to the Hayes-Taylor YMCA since 1977, where he chaired the Board of Management from 1983 to 1995, established the Street-Nasir Scholarship Trust, was a Sustaining Campaign worker and an Honorary Life Member.

Hayes-Taylor Y was an important place of growth and learning for Street ever since he was 7 years old, coming up as a black child in the segregated South of the early ‘50s. He intimately knew the value of the Y for young people, and the important nurturing that it offered. So his continued devotion to it was no surprise, as Marquis Street was the second longest board chairman to serve in the facility’s history.

“The thing I remember most was his love for the Hayes-Taylor YMCA, and his love for children of color … fighting for locations and places  for them to go,” recalls Edith Chance, one of Street’s “besties” friends from N.C. A&T, adding that he never forgot “from whence he came.”

Street was once named YMCA Man of the Year, and received the Hayes-Taylor Citizenship and Service to Youth Award.

The gymnasium at the old Hayes-Taylor YMCA on East Market Street was named after him.

“Marquis was the epitome of pulling up one’s self by his bootstraps,” said Ernie Pitt, close friend, and publisher emeritus of the Winston-Salem Chronicle. “Nobody gave him anything. He was a determined, dedicated individual who loved his community, and loved the people in it. I’m so happy, and so proud to have been one of his good friends. I loved him.”

Attorney Marquis Street is survived by his wife, Sallie; one older brother, two sisters, one son (from a previous marriage), one stepson, and a host of nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.

In lieu of flowers and cards, people are encouraged to make contributions to the Hayes-Taylor Memorial YMCA, 2630 East Florida Street, Greensboro, NC 27401.

The Celebration of Life Service for Attorney Street will be held on Thursday, Dec. 15 from noon-2 p.m. in the Dudley Room of the OLD Hayes-Taylor YMCA at 1101 East Market St. in Greensboro.

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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