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Published: Monday, 8/30/2004

O-I employee was avid church musician

Constance L. Dunbar, a former Owens-Illinois Inc. marketing specialist and a past president of the Frederick Douglass Community Association, died Tuesday in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center. She was 67.

Family members said Ms. Dunbar, who suffered from multiple sclerosis for a long time, died of natural causes.

"She lived in God's way and she loved life," said her daughter, Marquita-Forte Burks. "She was always smiling, and her willingness to overcome her sickness and to help other people was very inspiring."

Born in Toledo in 1937, Ms. Dunbar attended Gunckel Elementary School and Libbey High School, from which she graduated in 1955.

She went on to the University of Toledo and later to the University of Minnesota, where she did course work but did not receive a degree.

In 1965 Ms. Dunbar started working as a marketing specialist at O-I.

She retired in 1980 after she was diagnosed with the debilitating nerve and muscle disease.

She was an active member of the Warren A.M.E Church, where she was the church organist.

Ms. Dunbar was not slowed by her illness, her daughter said. She was also the choir director at St. Philip Lutheran Church.

"She loved to play the piano, and she played in churches all around the city," Ms. Burks said.

An avid bowler, Ms. Dunbar was one of the founding members of the Glass City Travelers.

She also was an advocate for people with disabilities, said her daughter.

Ms. Dunbar was a former member of the board of trustees of the Ability Center of Greater Toledo and had been a member of the board of the Toledo Legal Aid Society.

"She learned about her body and her illness, and she used that to help other people suffering from the disease," Ms. Burks said.

Ms. Dunbar was a former district treasurer of the National Association of Colored Women.

She is survived by a son, Leodius; daughters, Teena-Forte Baker, Rehitha-Forte Hughes, and Marquita-Forte Burks; nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 4 to 6 p.m. tomorrow in the Dale Funeral Home Chapel.

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday at Warren A.M.E Church.

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