The death is announced of Mrs. C. Leona Tucker Chesson, former Asst. Minister for International Cooperation, Foreign Ministry, Liberia.
Mrs. Chesson died last Friday, January 19, 2018 at the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, Maryland, after a brief illness.
She was 89.
An exponent of the first graduating class of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law in the late 1950s, she shortly thereafter passed the National Bar exams and was appointed resident attorney with the Liberian American Swedish Minerals Company (LAMCO).
In 1972 President William R. Tolbert, Jr. appointed her Assistant Minister of Justice for Taxation, and later as Assistant minister of Foreign Affairs for International Cooperation.
In 1969 the Liberian government appointed her Labor Advisor and during that period she worked with the International Labor Organization (ILO) in writing the Labor Laws of Liberia.
Leona represented Liberia at all ILO meetings in Geneva and Africa and at non-governmental agencies at many international meetings and conferences. In 1957 she participated in the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, Italy. She also represented Liberia at several meetings of the United Nations General Assembly. In 1976 she was a Liberian delegate to the Conference of Non-Aligned Nations in Colombo, Sri Lanka; and later at the UN meeting for the Media in Africa, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She represented Liberia at the World Congress of Women in Moscow in 1963.
In 1977 Leona Chesson was requested by the Conference of Non-Aligned Nations to proceed to Bagdad, Iraq where she joined other representatives from six nations to organize the conference for women in development, and attended the conference the following year.
She was later elected Deputy Secretary General of the Pan African Women’s Organization in 1968, and administered the affairs of the Headquarters in Algiers, Algeria, where she traveled frequently over many years, organizing most of these conferences.
Among her many accomplishments in the international arena was her organization and hosting in 1967 in Monrovia, Liberia of the International Federation of Women Lawyers Convention, of which she was Vice President. She also helped establish the Liberia Opportunities Industrialization Center (LOIC), a vocational training program that has trained thousands of Liberians in various vocational fields and is still doing so.
While studying at Howard University in Washington, D.C., Leona Tucker befriended and married Mr. Joseph J.F. Chesson, who was a senior Law student at American University in Washington. To this union five children were born—two sons, Leonardo Alhaj, a musician and artist; Rouchell Hilary R.W. Chesson, Sr., a social worker and businessman; and three daughters—Yvette Mnuma Chesson Wureh, an eminent Liberian and and international lawyer and now head of the Angie Brooks Foundation; Pscopelia Marilyn Elizabeth Chesson-Wilkins, a Registered Nurse and business manager. Leona was blessed with eight grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
One daughter, Gaynelle Wiyata Chesson, predeceased her mother at age 5.
Catherine Leona Tucker Chesson was the first child of the marriage between John Payne Tucker and Danielette Johnson Tucker. Leona was born on May 29, 1928 in Monrovia. Before her sixth birthday her father died, leaving two children and her mother six months pregnant. Her maternal grandfather offered to help provide support, but died a month later. The family was devastated. Her maternal grandmother, a teacher and farmer, came to the rescue. The children lived with their grandmother in Lower Caldwell, where they began their education.
In 1938 Leona and her sister Danielette were enrolled at Bromley Mission in Clay Ashland. Leona later attended the College of West Africa (CWA), where she graduated in 1947. Her classmates included Dr. Henry Benson; Augustine Jallah, former Director General of the Archives of Liberia; Dr. Wilmot Dennis; Ernest Eastman, former Minister of Foreign Affairs; Regina Williams; and Nathaniel Obi.
A life-long Episcopalian like her parents and siblings, Leona in 1983 was elected by the Episcopal Diocesan Convention as member of the Diocesan Board of Trustees.
Also that year the Africa Region of the World Student Christian Federation, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, invited her to help organize a highly successful Leadership Training Conference, held in Lusaka, Zambia. The aim was to help revitalize the NSCC Africa branch.
Her sister, Mrs. Danielette Tucker, former Accountant General of Liberia, and brothers John Payne Tucker, former Deputy Director of Police and Gabriel Johnson Tucker, former Minister of Public Works, also predeceased Leona.
According to her daughter, Counselor Yvette Chesson Wureh, the funeral of Mrs. Leona Chesson will take place in Maryland, USA. The details will be announced later.