West Valley civil rights champion Linda Cutright died Dec. 1 from complications of COVID-19. 

Her brother, Ervin Cutright, of Peoria-based Northwest Black History Community, remembered her as thoughtful and caring.

The Phoenix resident’s service is Saturday, Dec. 18, at Avondale Baptist Church in Avondale. In lieu of flowers, Ervin is asking for donations to a scholarship fund that will be set up in Linda’s name. Email Ervin at ervcut@gmail.com for information.

The Cutright family has been prominent in the West Valley for more than 50 years, some holding elected offices, educators, business owners, city manager, and outstanding local and national athletes.

Linda, 65, was an advocate for coronavirus vaccinations. She organized Family Affair, which featured vaccinations, food and raffle prizes on Sept. 25 at Bethesda Church of God in Christ in Avondale.

“The church is located in a community with Blacks and Hispanics,” she said at the time to the West Valley View. 

“African Americans are leery. They don’t really trust the vaccine. Many of them have pre-existing conditions. Because of those pre-existing conditions, the death rate is very high among African Americans and Hispanics in Arizona.”

Ervin said Linda dedicated her life to community service. 

“I just realized Linda and I had a whole lot in common,” Ervin said. 

“I do similar things in the West Valley also. We share some of the same community concerns. Whenever something happened, like a police shooting, she would hold the appropriate organization accountable.

“She wanted the police departments to do the right thing as it related to brutality and as it related to African American men. She fought those injustices for the community with the Rev. (Jarrett) Maupin.”

On Twitter, Maupin shared his condolences. 

“Missing my friend, civil rights activist #LindaCutright,” he posted. “Thank you, Linda, for always keeping the faith. We had many adventures, causes and victories. I know we will meet again, in Christ. See you on that great getting up morning. Praying for the family!”

She never shunned controversial issues like systemic injustices, community police and workplace issues. She had a strong spiritual compass and was a great orator and public speaker, Ervin said. Ervin said Linda had a heart for community and persons who were disenfranchised.

“She was very outspoken,” said Ervin, a Surprise resident who formerly lived in Peoria. “She had just as many enemies as friends. People didn’t like her holding them accountable.

“I’m going to examine that at the service. We want the community to know who she is. She was loving. She took in people to stay in her house, whether it was families or friends. She cooked Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and invited the community to be a part of it. She was very generous and a strong spiritual leader in our church.

“She had a tremendous faith belief. She never had children, but she raised at least 20 children inside and outside of the family. They looked up to her on Mother’s Day.” 

The dean of student services at Estrella Mountain Community College, Cutright was a member of the NAACP, board of directors of Bethesda Church of God in Christ and the National Black MBA Association. A licensed minister, she was a graduate of Maricopa Community Colleges’ Women’s Leadership Group.

As the dean, Ervin said, Linda helped more than 3,000 students earn their degrees, as she counseled them and ensured their financial aid was not compromised.

Linda earned her associate degree within the Maricopa Community Colleges system and a bachelor’s degree in management from Grand Canyon University. Her master’s in education with a counseling background is from NAU, and she completed her final application to obtain her Ph.D. in general psychology with Capella University with two focus areas, lifespan and industrial development.

She had strong ties to the staff of municipalities around the West Valley, Ervin explained. 

“She worked very closely with the state attorney and the chancellor at the community college, principals at schools, city managers and councilpersons. 

“When things went on in the Valley, they made their way to Linda. It’s just a terrible loss. It affects so many people in the community.”

PT