“She’s a Wonderful, Wonderful Person”

Suzette Cowell with First Ladt Sheila and Bishop Edward Cook

By Fletcher Word
The Truth Editor

A room filled with 75 people who gathered to appreciate and celebrate Suzette Cowell, CEO of Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union, on the occasion of her birthday, generated as much love as could possibly be imagined – both for the honoree and by her as well.

Organized by her son Eric Cowell and the staff and board of TUFCU, Cowell’s surprise birthday celebration on Saturday December 16 has held at the Hilton Inn Downtown and, somehow, it truly was a surprise even as a notable list of those in the Toledo community were informed and held the secret close.

The event was moderated by Valerie Simmons Walston, University of Toledo’s special assistant to the President for Community Engagement and Strategic Partnerships. Then followed numerous tributes to the guest of honor by those who have worked with her over the years, those who are part of her family and those whose lives she has changed for the better during her stewardship at TUFCU.

“She’s a wonderful, wonderful person,” said Richard LaValley, Toledo Urban Foundation Board president, one of the first speakers. “I see all she has done to make this a better community.”

Lavalley’s words were echoed by a number of speakers and their testaments to Cowell’s decades long work in the service of the community.

Speaker after speaker – Aletha Easterly of Quality Day Care; Thomas Winston, CEO of the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority; Delise Simmons, real estate agent and former assistant to Cowell; Ray Wood, former president of the Toledo NAACP; Reggie Williams, executive director of the Frederick Douglass Community Association; Andre Cowell, Suzette’s nephew, to name a few – related their individual experiences of how often Cowell supported, inspired or worked tirelessly to change and improve their lives.

Cowell herself, surprised for only the first time in her life she later related, wrapped up the celebration by recounting some of her past health issues and struggles that she was able to overcome by the grace of God. She also took the opportunity to thank virtually everyone in the room for the impact each has had in her life – indeed virtually all of the 75 attendees had a close personal relationship with the honoree.

Not lost in the celebration was the success that Cowell has had in her guidance of the fortunes of TUFCU. A second branch will be opening on January 4 on Monroe Street across from Swayne Filed. A groundbreaking for the TUFCU resource center, across the street on Dorr from the current institution, will happen soon. And is a third branch a possibility in the not-too-distant future?