Rena Violante Claggion Monk was born December 7, 1920 in Norfolk, Virginia. She was one of ten children of Edgar and C. Lollie Reid Claggion. Rena grew up attending church with her family and singing in the choir. She attended and graduated from Providence High School.
Like many African Americans with southern roots, Rena headed north after WWII in search of opportunity. It was in New York City that she was reacquainted with John Henry Monk, a friend from Norfolk. They fell in love and were married on July 12, 1947. John and Rena created a loving and supportive home for their children. In the mid-1950s, the family settled in the Cooper Park Houses in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where they raised their six children and she served as Tenant Patrol Building Captain for over 30 years. John and Rena celebrated 50 years of marriage in 1997, just before his passing.
An avid lover of baseball and gospel music, Rena was an active member of the Devoe Street Baptist Church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where she was a deacon, missionary and featured soloist for many years. On the morning of Saturday, March 28th, Rena peacefully transitioned to her heavenly home.
Leaving to cherish her incredible memory are five daughters: June White, Valerie Addo, Deborah McMillan, Rena Lynn Monk, and Jacklyn Monk Goldberg (Kenneth); one son: John Reid Monk; five grandchildren: Kenyatta Archibald (Karon), Afua Addo, Fenaba Addo (Senay), Kendall McMillan, and Justin Monk; five great-grandchildren: Kenya Archibald, Kingston Archibald, Cameron McMillan, Natavia McMillan, and Nia Senay; and a host of relatives and friends.
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