Cleo Johnson’s legacy celebrated

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Relatives, friends and former students gathered recently at Provident Missionary Baptist Church to pay tribute to Cleo Johnson.

Relatives, friends and former students gathered recently at Provident Missionary Baptist Church to pay tribute to Cleo Johnson.

Johnson, founder of the Cleo Johnson School of Charm and Modeling, died March 8 in her South Side home.

“One of her proudest moments was when she and 10 other models formed the Modeling Association of America (known today as Modeling Association of America International). She was the only African American woman on that founding board,” Brenda Carr, Johnson’s niece, said at the homegoing service.

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Often referred to as “Chicago’s First Lady of Fashion,” Johnson, a Loulin, Miss. native and graduate of Dunbar High School, opened the school nearly 55 years ago. It had been a fixture at 8443 S. Cottage Grove for decades.

The epitome of etiquette, grace and style, Johnson is internationally known as an icon and has guided the careers of hundreds who have excelled in the business, community relations, entertainment and media industries. Her roster included Minnie Riperton and former U.S. Rep. Cardiss Collins.

The Cleo Johnson Mannequins, who carried single-stem red roses, paid homage in a resolution to their founder.

Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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