In Loving Memory of
A Phenomenal Woman
1944 - 2016
Bernita Earnestine Gatewood (Murray) is from Hazlehurst, Mississippi. As a young girl in Mississippi, Bernita’s brave, faithful and determined spirit inspired her to lead. At an early age she was a lead drum majorette for Parrish High School marching band. She came to Columbus, Ohio in 1962.
In 1967, she worked as a community organizer with the Columbus Metropolitan Area Community Action Organization (CMACAO). This fueled her passion for serving the community and helping families.
In 1969, she joined the East Central Citizens Organization’s (ECCO) minority small business operations. She was promoted to Marketing Director in 1971 and was a part of the team that was awarded funds from the U.S. Department of Commerce to help minority small business owners on the east side of Columbus.
Over the next several years, Bernita was employed with several organizations, including Harper Industries, Inc. and Columbus Housing Partnership (CHP), which elevated her drive for working with small business owners and families. She continued on that path by joining with the Neighborhood House to refurbish deteriorated homes and to help low-income families realize the dream of home ownership.
Stepping out on faith, Bernita established her own company, the East Columbus Development Company, Inc. (ECDC) in 2003. ECDC is a non-profit organization created to revitalize the Near East Side and King Lincoln District. ECDC was Bernita’s dream to empower people and to build communities one block at a time. It was here where she developed innovative partnerships with banks, government agencies, and prominent community leaders to make a positive impact. She worked tirelessly to help families realize the American dream of home ownership and entrepreneurs start their own businesses. Bernita was devoted to serving the community.
Bernita devoted her life to serving her family and community by working to create moments for people that were life-changing.