Flowers King McClennan (Courtesy photo)

Flowers King McClennan, longtime Los Angeles resident and beloved LAUSD educator, passed suddenly on February 16.  She was 95 years old.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m., March 12, at Episcopal Church of the Advent (4976 West Adams, Los Angeles).  Interment will be at Inglewood Park Cemetery followed by a repast at the family home. Mourners may also visit the Harrison Ross View Park Chapel on Monday, March 11 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Flowers King, the youngest of four children of Dan Smith King and Lottie Perryman, was born in Lufkin, Texas on October 12, 1928.  She was named by her brother, who upon returning from school declared the new baby to be as pretty as a flower.

In 1943, Flowers graduated from Dunbar High School in Lufkin and matriculated at Prairie View A&M the following fall, where she pursued her twin interests of music and literature. It was in the English reading room there, that she met Walter D.  McClennan, a young mathematics professor who used the newspaper collection to enjoy his interest in crossword puzzles. When Flowers told her mother about their plan to marry, Mrs. King emphasized that she felt her daughter’s priority should be to complete her education.  It was only after Walter promised that Flowers would continue in college, that her mother consented to the marriage in 1948.  The result of that promise was Flowers never missed a day of class when her first child, Jessie Louise, was born during Christmas break of her final college year. Their second child, Walter Jr., was born when Walter was teaching at another small Black college in Beaumont, Texas.

While they were both qualified to teach in Texas, Flowers and her husband strongly felt that any aspirations they had for themselves and their family would be stunted if they remained in segregated Texas. In 1953, Walter was offered a position as a mathematician at a little-known outpost in the middle of the desert with the Department of Defense. Although it meant they would live far from family and friends, they felt that Truman’s 1948 integration of the military could mean better opportunities for their future so they decided Walter should take it. Thus it was that their third child, Kenneth Dewitt, was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

At White Sands Proving Ground (later Missile Range), Flowers followed the typical life of a wife and mother of those times, active in church and school activities, amateur theater productions, and Girl Scouts leadership — for which she wrote a bi- weekly newspaper column.  When her youngest son started school she decided to update her teaching qualifications and took some courses at New Mexico State.  Shortly before she actually started teaching, her husband’s career took her to San Diego, then to Los Angeles where he was a software manager for the Apollo Program.

Her first year in Los Angeles was a continuation of the life she had led at White Sands and San Diego:  PTA, Scout leadership and music. After a year, when the family was settled in, she began her career as a full-time teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District, starting as an upper grade elementary teacher and quickly established her proficiency in teaching reading.  As her family matured, she took on more varied assignments in the schools.  Later, when all three of her children had graduated high school, Flowers took advantage of the district’s sabbatical program and earned a Master’s degree in Education Administration and started counseling. She then started working in the ESL program for the school district and earned a Bilingual Education certification from the state of California – spending time at the Monterey Language Institute along the way.  She was working as a counselor at Le Conte Middle School when the school experienced a large influx of Armenian students so she added another language to her skill set.  Her last assignment was as a college prep counselor for middle school. Immediately after retiring as a full-time teacher, Flowers joined the ranks of substitute counselors and teachers in the district’s high schools where she enjoyed mentoring young teachers and administrators while delighting students with her encyclopedic knowledge of basketball. Her final time in the classroom came in 2020 – after 54 years of service to LAUSD.

Flowers never lost her passion for music.  Everywhere she lived, she was active in choirs and chorales. In addition to being member of the choir at the Church of the Advent she sang with other choral groups including “Choral Gifts,” which included many music teachers. She even took part in an operatic production during her sabbatical year at Cal State Los Angeles.

As with many seniors, COVID-19 pandemic severely restricted Flowers’ activities.   When county officials imposed a lock-down on public gatherings, her attendance at Church of the Advent, which she joined in 1965, was curtailed and she was no longer able to see many of her old friends.  During that time, she focused on renewing the magnificent landscape that she and her husband had maintained at their home.  By the time the county re-opened, many of her old groups had disbanded and former colleagues had passed. She nevertheless continued to be engaged in books and music, sharing discussions and attending musicales with her daughter.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 69 years Walter, her son Walter Jr, her mother Lottie Perryman King and her siblings Ed Henry, Esther Mae and Elizabeth.  She leaves to cherish her memory, daughter Jessie Louise, her son Kenneth Dewitt, her granddaughter Virginia (husband David White) and great-granddaughter Valencia.  As well as her cousin Robert Perryman (Lake Charles, Louisiana), numerous nieces and nephews, and hundreds of former students.