Christine Lee, NBC 5 Irving Reporter
Bear Creek Community Corp. remembers Kenneth Hearn as a man who worked tirelessly to improve living conditions during segregation.
Kenneth Hearn, one of the founders of the oldest black nonprofits in Irving, died Saturday at the age of 77.
Loved ones are remembering Hearn, who co-founded the West Irving Improvement Association in 1964.
Nzingha Shakur-Ali said her grandfather taught her things no history book could.
"They were dealing with issues that people don't think about nowadays, like being able to flush your toilet, like being able to go to the sink and turn on water," she said. "This is a man who can tell you what it's like to be there during those days. He can give you that history."
Gloria Oliver, Bear Creek Development Corp. president, said life in Irving during the 1960s was very different from today.
"It was completely segregated," she said. "We'd go into work in Irving, but you would come out and come back into the community."
Oliver said Hearn worked tirelessly to improve the living conditions for the Bear Creek Black Community.
"It's been a long hard fight, and Kenneth has stood in the forefront of that fight," she said.
Anthony Bond, founder of the Irving chapter of the NAACP, said Hearn was an inspiration.
"I see him as a Martin Luther King to me," he said. "He paved the way for people like me to come here and do some of the things that I was able to do with him."
Hearn's name stands tall at the baseball field adjacent to the West Irving Improvement Association.
"They built that building, that yellow building with their bare hands, you know, and that, to me, says a lot about a man -- you know, where your heart is," Shakur-Ali said.
Shaur-Ali said she is thankful for the time she had with her grandfather and is proud to carry on his legacy.
"It's a generation lost in a lot of ways, but not, you know, as it lives on through us," she said.
Kenneth Hearn had just celebrated his 59th wedding anniversary in November. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Rocky Springs Missionary Baptist Church.