Elijah L. Bing, an educator who was Hillsborough County's first black county commissioner and the architect of the county's school desegregation plan, died Thursday (Oct. 25, 1990) at his Thonotosassa farm. He was 69. After 30 years in the school system, Mr. Bing was summoned out of retirement in 1983 as part of a three-member team named by then-Gov. Bob Graham to take the seats of a trio of county commissioners accused of soliciting bribes in a rezoning case.
Although he was the first black person to serve on the County Commission, he told reporters at the time: "I don't think that is too significant. All of my life I've been involved in some kind of civic service. I think county government has lost its integrity, and I'd like to try to help restore it."
Born in Plant City in 1921, Mr. Bing lived in Hillsborough County all his life.
"He came up working hard, working in strawberry fields and orange groves" to help support his family, the Rev. A. Leon Lowry Sr. said Friday. "He was a man of tremendous ability and integrity," said Lowry, a prominent Tampa civil rights activist and Hillsborough County School Board member.
During his three decades in the county school system, Mr. Bing was a principal for 18 years. From 1971 until his retirement in 1978, he was an assistant school administrator in charge of federal programs. In 1971 he was chairman of the committee that designed the county's desegregation plan.
Earlier this year, a new elementary school in Progress Village was named for Mr. Bing.
Mr. Bing was a graduate of Florida A&M University and Columbia University.
Survivors include a son, Harry, Eatonville; five daughters, Chrysta Bing Whittaker and Gloria Bing Middleton, both of Orlando, Altrell Bing Ellis and Anita Bing, both of Tampa, and Valerie Bing Frazier, Birmingham, Ala.; a sister, Mildred Majors, Orlando; and eight grandchildren.
A funeral will be at 11 a.m. today at the Garden of Peace Cemetery, Plant City. Charlow Funeral Home, Plant City, is in charge of arrangements.
The family suggests memorial contributions to the scholarship fund of the Tampa Bay Male Club, P.O. 23003, Tampa 33623-3003.
_ Some information in this obituary came from stories by staff writers Karen Dukess and Robert Barnes.