Biography: Harlem’s favorite daughter, Beverly Ann Alston, was born on May 25, 1950 to Arthur (Kayo) Smith and Bobbie Lane in her beloved village of Harlem. Until her last breath on July 11, 2018, Beverly was surrounded by a host of family and friends. Family meant everything to Beverly; her greatest attribute was her love and devotion to her immediate family (children and grandchildren), extended family, and friends (most of whom were considered adopted family). Those who knew Beverly also knew that same love and devotion came with a candid, unfiltered opinion; she would tell you how she felt, whatever she felt, in that moment. You couldn’t be upset though because, in the end, she was always willing to be there for you when you needed her. Her heart was huge and full of love. She lived life to the fullest, traveling, entertaining, cooking, watching sports, dancing and politicking.
Beverly was blessed to find love not once but twice in her life. As an aspiring leader selected for HARYOU-ACT’s leadership training program (including mentorship by Malcom X), Beverly met and fell in love with Calvin Alston to whom she married August 12, 1967 at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. To their joy, Calvin Alston, Jr. was born to them on December 27, 1976. After 10 years of marriage, Beverly and Calvin separated and she met Joseph Leake, the second love of her life. By 1979, Beverly and Joe were inseparable, and shortly thereafter formed a blended family with Sabena, Tanya, Jared and Calvin.
As an intellectually gifted student, Beverly attended Harlem public schools IS 28, JHS 136 and Benjamin Franklin HS where she excelled in all subject matter. At the ripe age of 13, Beverly attended the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, one early predictor of what would be the next 55+ years of community involvement and activism. Besides her early involvement with HARYOU-ACT, Beverly was also active with the Harlem Community School Board, ran for District Leader in 1987 and was an early influencer and lifetime member of the National Action Network (NAN). With energy to spare, between jobs at prestigious companies such as American Express, CBS and Bear Sterns, she started her own word processing temp agency, Best Word.
Graduating City College in 1994, Beverly received her Bachelor’s degree and continued making an impact with Harlem residents in various roles: elementary school teacher at P.S. 123; regional assistant administration manager for the 2000 Census; housing director for affordable housing program Phase Piggyback; director of Healthy NY. She continued her political involvement through various coordination and management leadership roles in a plethora of campaigns and offices including Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, Reverend Al Sharpton, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Democratic Minority Leader (and later Lieutenant Governor) David A. Paterson, Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright, Councilmembers Helen Diane Foster and Inez E. Dickens.
Although she retired in 2016 as a New York State superintendent for the Office of General Service, she did not slow down. She continued doing consulting work for local political and judicial candidates. She also stayed busy and active with community roles including President of the Riverbend Cooperative Board of Directors, President of the Henry J. Carter Nursing Home Community Advisory Board, Secretary of the Owners Association of Ridge Top Village at Shawnee Resorts and member of Abyssinian Baptist Church. She is President Emeritus of various organizations including the Uptown Democratic Club (UDC - of which she is also a founding member), the African American Day Parade Breakfast Committee and Harlem Historic Parks’ Jackie Robinson Park Conservancy. She is also a former member of the NAACP – Mid-Manhattan Branch, Harlem Hospital Community
Advisory Board and Community Board 11.
She leaves behind to cherish her memories, her partner of 39 years, Joseph Leake and her son, Calvin Alston. She is also survived by Joe’s three children, Sabena, Tanya and Jared, whom she loved dearly; five grandchildren, Mikai, Jared Joseph (JJ),
Mackenzie Zahara, Cameron Arthur and Calvin, Jr. (CJ); three brothers, Robert, Eukhani and Arthur (Kayo); six sisters Irene (Peanut), Jeanne, Earline, Lisa, Trina and Linda; one uncle, Ricky, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and many special friends.