Speaking with former Toledo native and author Vincent Flowers, is inspiring — encouraging you to give back to the community, to travel and maybe even to write a children’s book. The reason? Vincent Flowers gives anyone who hears his story permission to dream.
“I grew up ‘Out Stickney’ on Paxton in North Toledo. Me, my mom, and my sister,” Flowers explains. As a student of Spring Elementary, he recalls the teachers who shaped his early years. “When I think about Spring School, I think about three teachers. In second grade, Miss Mixon. In fifth grade, Ms. Redmond. And in sixth grade, Mr. Ford.”
An encounter with Ms. Redmond shaped his future. “In fifth grade, I started missing school. Ms. Redmond sent a friend to my house to bring me a note from her. The note said ‘If you don’t get your butt back in school, I’m going to flunk you.’
Flowers went back to school, and Ms. Redmond encouraged him to strive for something more. “She took me aside and said ‘You’re very intelligent, you can do a lot of things, but you need to focus.’”
Inspired to Achieve
Redmond recommended Flowers for the Ohio State Young Scholars program, and he was accepted. The program required students to maintain a 3.5 GPA in middle school and a 3.0 GPA in high school. Flowers did just that, graduating from Central Catholic High School with a 3.65 GPA. Based on that success, he received a full academic scholarship to The Ohio State University.
At OSU, Flowers earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. He went on to work for Johnson and Johnson for over twenty years. His work has taken him to over 25 countries, and he has traveled to an additional dozen countries on his own. Not bad for a kid whose annual family vacation was a summer day trip to Cedar Point.
Inspired to Write A Children’s Book
Flowers married, moved to Florida and started a family. While reading a book to his son, Zion, one day, Zion pointed to a character in the book and said “Daddy, that’s me!” Flowers saw how Zion identified with a character that looked like him, and decided to look for similar books. “I was looking around for more books that looked like him, and I was struggling,” Flowers said.
That experience made Flowers decide to write a book that would better represent his family and other families, too. The book, “Zoe and Zion Love To Build,” with characters based on his own children, was published by Mahogany Press Publishing on Father’s Day 2022.
Flowers’ second book, “Zoe and Zion Love to Bounce,” which will be published on Father’s Day of 2023. “Both stories show how Zoe and Zion have each other’s back and how they play together. My plan is to follow them as they age, highlighting different aspects of their relationship and how they love each other.”
Inspired to Give Back
Flowers showcases his personality in the ways he gives back to his community. When the movie “Black Panther” was first released, he worked with teachers and administrators at Spring Elementary to send an entire class of kids to see the movie in the theater, paying for tickets, popcorn and soda.
Recently, he returned to Spring Elementary to read his book to all of the first and second graders. When he finished reading, one student asked ‘Hey Mr. Flowers, the question I have is ‘Can I have that book?’” Flowers was happy to report that every student would get a book that day. “It was like Oprah. Everybody gets a book!” Flowers said with a laugh. Flowers hopes to inspire more people giving back to the community and making a difference in the lives of children.
“You don’t really hear about the positive stuff from people who grew up Out Stickney. We’ve got positive people who have come out of Toledo. People who grew up in Toledo are doing big things. How do we get more people to give back? How do we get more people to see that our children need to see them doing positive things so that they can choose to do positive things, too?”
Flowers believes that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible. “I’m an IT guy. I published a children’s book that rose to number one in three categories on Amazon. What I’m trying to do is set an example for my kids, and other kids, to say ‘Hey look, if you want to do something and you just lock in on it, you can make it happen.”
Getting to Know Vincent Flowers
Family: Wife: Zelia
Daughter: Zoe (age 6)
Son: Zion (age 4)
Life in three words: Laughter, family, travel.
Favorite Toledo Restaurant: Gino’s Pizza.
Favorite Toledo Metropark: Wildwood (His uncle was a park ranger there).
Favorite author: Langston Hughes.
Favorite way to spend time off: Traveling! Flowers hopes to take a trip to Sao Paolo, Brazil soon, and has plans to visit Zurich, Switzerland with his wife and children. Also on their list? Dubai and Morocco.