Ella Louise Wheeler was described by her family as a warm and outgoing person who truly live, and loved life. She loved to shop and dressed with style. Wheeler was also an avid traveler. She loved vacationing with her friends in Atlantic City, Miami, the Caribbean and anywhere the weather was warm and she could have some fun in the sun. Those who knew Wheeler appreciated her kindness, friendship and genuine ways. The former corrections officer died Sept. 12. She was 61.
Wheeler was born on May 14, 1950, in Dillon, S.C. to late Frank Covington and Ella Tart. She accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior and was a proud member of Triumph Baptist Church under the leadership of the Rev. James Hall Jr.
Wheeler, affectionately called Louise by family and many friends, was educated in the Latimer Public School System, in Latta, S.C. and received her high school diploma from Latimer High School in 1969.
Wheeler moved to Philadelphia shortly after completing high school. She was very assertive and took pride in the work she performed. She was employed by the City of Philadelphia Department of Recreation, and then the School District of Philadelphia. In 1988, Wheeler began her career as a correctional officer with the Philadelphia Prison System and retired in November 2010. She formed life-long friendships with many colleagues and was affectionately known by many nicknames.
Wheeler leaves to mourn: brother, Levern Covington; sister, Josephine Williams; brother-in-law, Greg Williams; two sisters-in-law, Ernestine Covington and Shirley Covington; a very dear and loyal friend, Iris Bush; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, relatives and special friends.
Services will be held September 20 at Triumph Baptist Church, 1648 W. Hunting Park. The viewing will be at 10 a.m. The service will start at 11 a.m. Slater Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Alice Lee Jackmon Yancy was known to be a fashion diva. She loved fine clothing and jewelry and through her 90s would not leave her home without applying her “lipstick and powder.” In her early years, shopping downtown was a favorite pastime.
Alice maintained a healthy appetite and always enjoyed a good meal. She adored flowers and plants, and liked to travel, especially to her home in Virginia. Most of all, she loved spending time with family.
Yancy died Dec. 25. She was 96.
Yancy was born on Nov. 5, 1915, to Mary Ellen Bristow and Hollis Jackmon in Gloucester, Virginia. She was the eldest of four children.
She accepted Christ and was baptized at an early age at the New Mount Zion Baptist Church in Gloucester. She later joined Miller Memorial Baptist Church once she established residency in Philadelphia, under the pastorate of the late Rev. J. Luke Jones. She was a faithful member and sang on the Fellowship choir for over 50 years.
She received her formal education at Gloucester Institute for girls in Capahosick, Va. While there, she played on the basketball team. She received her high school diploma from Brooksfield High in Gloucester.
Yancy moved to Philadelphia after graduation to live with her aunt and uncle in the Nicetown neighborhood. It was during one of her returns from Virginia when she met her husband, Thornton Yancy, on the Greyhound bus; the rest was history. They had three children: Thornton, Joan and Alice Gloria.
Her first job in Philadelphia was as a seamstress with Coat Craft manufacturer. She often used her sewing skills to make her children’s clothing. In 1955, she started to work for the Defense Supply Center at Quarter Masters as a military uniform seamstress. She was later promoted to supervising clerk in the billing department. Alice retired from Quarter Masters in 1986. She received many awards and certificates during her employment with the government.
Yancy leaves to mourn: children, Thorton Yancy III and Joan Howell; daughter-in-law, Nancy Yancy; sister-in-law, Isadora Jackmon; nine grandchildren, Lynne, Lisa, Thorton IV, Yvette, Jill, Trevor, Greer, Todd, Amber and their spouses, David, Gary, Dereck, Eric, Corey; 13 great-grandchildren; niece, Joyce Jackmon Andrews; and a host of cousins and friends.
Services will be held Dec. 31 at Miller Memorial Baptist Church, 1518 North 22 St. The viewing will be at 9 am. The service will start at 10. Savin Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
John Bell was an HIV activist, prison advocate and mentor.
Bell died Sept. 12, 2012. He was 64.
He was a native of Baltimore and served in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1970. He moved back to Baltimore and worked as a foreman at the Amtrak station in Washington, D.C.
After a struggle with drugs, he was diagnosed with HIV in 1989. He moved to Philadelphia in 1995.
He was a longtime activist with the local chapter of ACT UP and longtime employee of Philadelphia FIGHT.
Executive Director Philadelphia FIGHT Jane Shull said that Bell was critical to the development of the organization’s work with the Philadelphia prison system and ex-offenders. He was the co-creator of Philadelphia FIGHT’s TEACH Outside initiative, a resource for HIV-positive people reintegrating into society from the prison system.
“What he brought to that was his own history as a person who had been in jail, who had come out , had gone into recovery and had taken that experience and turned it around and used it to help others,” said Shull.
“I think without him in the class, we couldn’t have done it because you can’t say to people ‘oh you can succeed,’ if there is not a model in front of you.”
Bell was known for making himself available to help others any time he was needed.
“I think that other thing that was tremendously important for us was the degree [to] which John was available to help people. He would go to see somebody in the prison system and he would give them his cell phone number. He never turned his cell phone off. If they got out and they wanted to connect, they would call and he would answer. So people knew that they had a friend,” Shull added.
Bell also created TITO: TEACH In/TEACH Out which carried the empowerment principles of Project TEACH to the prison population at risk of acquiring HIV.
Leon King, attorney and former commissioner of the Philadelphia Prison System, says Bell had a key role in transforming the system’s policies around HIV.
“Based on his advocacy we changed a lot of the policies and procedures at the prisons. We instituted condoms on the commissary list. We completely revamped the HIV policy. We started doing rapid HIV tests. These transformative things occurred in the prison because of Mr. Bell and his intense passion for this issue,” said King.
Activist Waheedah Shabazz-El credits Bell with transforming her life when he visited her in prison back in 2003. She had just been diagnosed with HIV and was at a low point in her life.
“He brought me from a dark place. The darkest point in my life was when I met him. That visit that I had with him changed my entire life. He gave me a bridge to connect with people like me,” said Shabazz-El.
“He was so many things to so many different people. He took advocacy to a whole other level. He’s really inspired countless people along his way. Everybody he touched, he touched in his own personal, special way.”
He is survived by his longtime partner, Gloria Prusakowski.
A memorial service will be held October 5 at 5:30 p.m. at the William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce Street.
Donations can be made in Bell’s name to ACT UP Philadelphia at www.actupphilly.org or by sending a check payable to ACT UP Philadelphia to P.O. Box 22439, Philadelphia, Pa. 19110.
Deborah A. Taylor Womack was loved, adored, admired and respected very much. She was employed at Pennsylvania Hospital where she served as an administrative assistant for over 30 years. She died Oct. 3. She was 61.
Womack was born on July 27, 1950 to Roy and Anna Taylor in Wilkes Barre, Pa. In the late 1950s the family later relocated to West Philadelphia.
Womack received her formal education in the Philadelphia Public school system and graduated from Bok Technical High School with honors. She received a scholarship to St. Elizabeth College where she studied stenography.
In the 1990s, she retired and dedicated her life to caring for and nurturing her four beautiful grandchildren. She was also gifted with many talents and loved to cook. At family gatherings she was depended on to make the families’ favorite dishes, rice and orzo and string beans sautéed with garlic and tomatoes.
Womack received Christ and was baptized at an early age at New Bethlehem Baptist Church. Before her death, she would frequently attend church services with her sisters, Brenda and Charese, until her health began to fail. Despite the pain she was going through in her body she believed in the power of prayer and would often request Bishop Michelle G. Cherry to visit her home for prayer.
Womack leaves to mourn: parents, Roy and Anna Taylor; two sons, Shawn and Brandon; two grand-daughters, Shayna and Marcia (Muff); three grandsons, Shawn Jr., Jordon and Makai; three sisters, Brenda, Charese and Kim; four brothers, Roy Jr., Kirk, Gary and Glenn; two special aunts, Nancy Adams and Marsha Barnes; two very special friends, Brenda Washington and Lil Lewis along with a host of nieces, nephews and close family friends.
Womack was preceded in death by her sister, Terra Taylor.
Services will be held Oct. 10 at New Bethlehem Baptist Church, Preston and Aspen Streets. The viewing will be at 10 a.m. The service will start at 11. Wood Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Mary Green, 71, was a long-time resident and homeowner of the northwest section of the city. She died suddenly of respiratory complications at Albert Einstein Medical Center on Sept. 3.
“Mommy was in good health and great spirits all the time, so seeing her in a hospital was rare, indeed. She was talking on the phone, joking and ordering everybody around as she usually did. When things took a sudden turn, we were all in shock. We could not believe that she was gone so quickly,” stated Keith Green, the eldest son.
Green was the second eldest of nine children of the late George and Elizabeth Whaley. Born in Columbia, S.C., she relocated with her family to Philadelphia in 1944. She was educated in the Philadelphia public schools, graduating from William Penn High School for Girls.
“As a young child, Mommy was exposed to teachings about Jesus Christ very regularly because of where the family lived, near Second and American streets. There were mission efforts all around the community. Raised by a devoutly Christian mother, Mommy took to the word of God and was nurtured throughout her growing up years,” daughter Adrian Holmes said.
“At Sunday Breakfast Mission she heard about God’s love and forgiving power. Under the ministry of Joseph Kramer, she came to know Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. As the eldest sister, while in her teens she showed herself to be a ready helper at home and in the neighborhood. She taught Sunday school at Sunday Breakfast Mission and volunteered three nights a week at the Helping Hands Rescue Mission. She was being groomed for the real purpose for her life.”
Her second daughter, Paula, also reflected.
“In 1957, while at a retreat at Camp Streamside, Mommy met our father and her best friend, the late John Green Jr. Under the leadership of Pastor Ben Johnson, the couple was married on June 17, 1961 and began serving together. Their marriage of forty-eight years produced five children, Keith L., Adrian R., Paula Y., Myron R. and Byron R. After the birth of the first of eleven grandchildren, Mary dubbed herself,” Paula said.
“Granny Green, The Granny Queen.” Her creative spirit was manifested in her cooking, her way with words, her manner of dress and talents with arts and crafts.”
Following the death of Pastor Ben Johnson, Mary’s husband was called to the pastorate of Christ Baptist Church.
“That was when Mommy really knew that the call on her life was to stand by John and work with him in the ministry. Together, they faithfully served Christ Baptist Church for 32 years. She served as director of the Nursery Ministry for more than twenty years, Girl Scout leader, VBS teacher, assistant director of Kings Kidz Camp, a member of the Silver Keys, MARK Ministries, Missions Board and more. She was always prepared to serve the Lord with a spirit of excellence, reverence and exuberant praise!” said one of the twins, Myron.
“Our mother was short in stature but made her presence known with ease. She made us know what she expected without hollering and screaming. A few choice words from Mary set us straight. Then, she was also backed up by our dad,” Byron said.
“However, she could take us on single-handed when necessary. Being children of the pastor meant we were always on display. Our parents let us be ourselves, but Mommy set a standard for our behavior that stood her in good stead. Even when Mommy worked for a while as a teacher assistant in public, charter, private and Christian schools, we knew what was expected and did not stray far from the mark.”
Green leaves to cherish her memory: children, Keith Green, Adrian Holmes, Paula Green-Howard, Byron Green and Myron Green; a son-in-law, Michael Howard; two daughters-in-law. Vanessa Green and Claire Green; grandchildren, Keith Jr., Andrew, Chaniece, Misha, Shar, Rasheem, Lisa, Malcolm, Nasya, Jasmine and Arial; her siblings, Julius C. Whaley, Joseph F. Whaley, Diana Whaley-Campbell, Sharon L. Whaley, Annette Whaley-Fowler and Grace Gaines; one brother-in-law, Joel S. Fowler; sisters-in-law, Viola Switzer, Patricia Whaley and Gloria Williams; friends of the family, James Owens and Brenda Pemberton; two aunts, Rose Brown and Lucille Whaley; fourteen nieces and nephews; a host of cousins; and two godchildren, Cindy Smith and Natasha Simpkins; her church family, friends, Elizabeth Anderson, Elise Adams, Laurel Jones, Honey, her prayer warrior, Odeliea, and Maxine Hobbs.
Her husband, Rev. John Green Jr.; brother, George; and sisters, Ellen and Daisie, preceded Green in death.
A memorial service will be held on September 11 at Christ Baptist Church, 1540 Church Lane. It will start at 4 p.m. A service will be held September 12 at Christ Baptist Church. The viewing will be at 8:30 a.m. The service will start at 10:30 a.m.
Sabbath Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Funeral services for the Rev. Thomas R. Niblack Sr. were held on April 28 at Gospel Temple Baptist Church.
Born Jan. 26, 1950, to Loretta and Henry Eugene Niblack, he died on April 23, 2012.
Educated in the School District of Philadelphia, Rev. Niblack graduated from South Philadelphia High School in 1967 and then attended Cheyney University on a part-time basis. He held several jobs, including being a stevedore at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, a cab driver, an iron chef of pizza for Dominos and a non-teaching assistant at Vare Middle School.
Family members said as a youngster at Friendship Baptist Church, under the guidance of his godfather, the late F.D. Edwards, Rev. Niblack was often found playing in the pulpit. He attended Manna Bible Institute, graduating in the late 1970s. In 1981, he was the youngest elder to be ordained in the Mount Sinai Holy Church of America where he served under Elder Thomas Martin before moving to Bethel Fellowship in Bensalem.
In 1995, he was employed at Philadelphia Traffic Court and was a proud member of District Council 33 Local 696. He was the chief steward at traffic court and appointed chaplain and trustee of District Council 33 Local 696.
In 1994, he moved his membership to Gospel Temple Baptist Church where under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Daniel T. Black, he was encouraged to continue his Christian education. He became a student at Jameson School of Theology where he graduates with a masters of arts in Biblical theology conferred upon by the International Christian University in May 2000.
In January 2003, he was installed as pastor of New Gethsemane Baptist Church in South Philadelphia.
In 2008, he was inspired to develop Segula Ministries.
Survivors include his wife, Irene; sons Thomas Jr. and Tai; daughter, Traeima; son-in-law, Michael; daughters-in-law, Mariah and Edithe (Ghia); six grandchildren, Abigail, Evan, Josias, Ian and Saiah. Hannah, Baby Niblack and Tomir preceeded him in death.
Also surviving is a stepfather, William “Pop” Sydnor; and brothers, Charles Jr. and Eric Johnson. Another brother, Henry (Gene) preceded him in death. He leaves two sisters, Lillian (Stell) Wyatt and Belinda Mack and several in-laws including Roy Wyatt, Loretta Niblack, Roslyn Johnson, Matthew Barton (Carol), Mary Ferrell (Milton), John Barton, Sherry Murray (Rick) and Troy Barton (Lashana).
Godchildren are: Walter Jacobs Jr., Latanya Gay, Maurice Drake, Darryl Roberts, Naheemah Salaam, Aquella Hassan, Ashley Childs-Beckett; Takyra West and Nasire Massey. Special children include Damarah Brown, Yvonne Brown-Keith Burgundy Murphy and special grandchildren, Michael and Araceli Aviles.
Two adopted sisters, Diana Fields and Shirley Gilchrist; Niblack’s other dad, Elder Goldwire McClendon; and dear friend Patricia McClendon, are also listed as survivors.
TEMPE, Ariz. — Former NFL and Arizona State running back Art Malone has died. He was 64.
Arizona State announced on Tuesday July 31 that Malone died on Friday July 27.
Malone played seven seasons in the NFL after being drafted in the second round by Atlanta. He played five seasons with the Falcons and two with the Philadelphia, rushing for 2,457 yards and 19 touchdowns, with 1,465 yards and six touchdowns on 161 receptions.
Malone played for the Sun Devils from 1967 to 1969 and rushed for 2,649 yards, seventh-most in school history. Malone rushed for 1,431 yards in 1968 and had 239 yards against New Mexico that season, both third-most in school history.
His brother, Ben Malone, played seven seasons with the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins.
A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday August 4.
Art Malone and his wife Carolyn lived in Tempe, Ariz. When he was 10 years old, his parents, Ben Sr. and Izora Malone, moved to Eloy, Ariz., from Tyler, Tex., in 1958.
The former SCVUHS, Arizona State University and National Football League great was inducted into the first class of the Santa Cruz Valley Union High School Hall of Fame, in September of 2010.
Malone entered high school in 1962 and began an extraordinary athletic high school, collegiate, and professional career.In high school football, Malone was the star running back of the Dust Devil’s very first state championship football team. He was selected to the first team all conference, the captain of the first team All State squad and the Athlete of the Month for November. Malone was also selected as Arizona’s best high school football player of 1965 and played in the All-Star football game in Flagstaff, Ariz.
As a member of the Santa Cruz track team, Malone was the first Arizona track athlete to run the 180-yard low hurdles in 18.7 seconds. During his high school track career, Malone was state champion in the high and low hurdles, selected as a member to the Arizona All-State team, and was selected to the All-American high school team.
In 1966, Malone accepted a football scholarship at Arizona State University. Starting with his sophomore year as a varsity running back and continuing through his senior year, Malone established himself as one of the great ASU running backs in school history. He finished third in ASU’S All-Time 100-yard rushing games with 239 yards on 29 carries against New Mexico in 1968. He finished fourth in ASU’S All-Time rushes for a career with 14, and finally, he finished third in ASU’S All-Time 1000-yard single-season rushes with 1,431 yards in 1968, which also placed him fifth among all colleges in the nation that year. To top off his college career, Malone earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education.
In 1970, Malone was the number two pick of the Atlanta Falcons where he was in the starting backfield for five years. He finished his professional career as a starter with the Philadelphia Eagles.
He continued working after his football career for the next 22 years with Arizona State University’s athletic department until his retirement. — (AP)
NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya's former president called her a mad woman. Seen as a threat to the rich and powerful, Wangari Maathai was beaten, arrested and vilified for the simple act of planting a tree, a natural wonder Maathai believed could reduce poverty and conflict.
Former elementary school students who planted saplings alongside her, world leaders charmed by her message and African visionaries on Monday remembered a woman some called the Tree Mother of Africa. Maathai, Africa's first female winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, died late Sunday in a Nairobi hospital following a battle with cancer. She was 71.
Maathai believed that a healthy environment helped improve lives by providing clean water and firewood for cooking, thereby decreasing conflict. The Kenyan organization she founded planted 30 million trees in hopes of improving the chances for peace, a triumph for nature that inspired the U.N. to launch a worldwide campaign that resulted in 11 billion trees planted.
Maathai, a university professor with a warm smile and college degrees from the United States, staged popular protests that bedeviled former President Daniel arap Moi, a repressive and autocratic ruler who called her "a mad woman" who was a threat to the security of Kenya.
In the summer of 1998, the Kenyan government was giving land to political allies in a protected forest on Nairobi's outskirts. Maathai began a campaign to reclaim the land, culminating in a confrontation with 200 hired thugs armed with machetes and bows and arrows. When Maathai tried to plant a tree, she and her cohorts were attacked with whips, clubs and stones. Maathai received a bloody gash on her head.
"Many said, 'She is just planting trees.' But that was important, not only from an environmental perspective, to stop the desert from spreading, but also as a way to activate women and fight the Daniel arap Moi regime," said Geir Lundestad, director of the Nobel Institute, which awarded Maathai the peace prize in 2004.
"Wangari Maathai combined the protection of the environment, with the struggle for women's rights and fight for democracy," he said.
Maathai said during her 2004 Peace Prize acceptance speech that the inspiration for her life's work came from her childhood experiences in rural Kenya. There she witnessed forests being cleared and replaced by commercial plantations, which destroyed biodiversity and the capacity of forests to conserve water.
After arap Moi left government, Maathai served as an assistant minister for the environment and natural resources ministry.
Although the tree-planting campaign launched by her group, the Green Belt Movement, did not initially address the issues of peace and democracy, Maathai said it became clear over time that responsible governance of the environment was not possible without democracy.
"Therefore, the tree became a symbol for the democratic struggle in Kenya. Citizens were mobilized to challenge widespread abuses of power, corruption and environmental mismanagement," Maathai said.
Maathai's work was quickly recognized by groups and governments the world over, winning awards, accolades and partnerships with powerful organizations. Meanwhile, her dedication to nature remained, as could be seen in her role in a movie called "Dirt! The Movie," where Maathai narrated the story of a hummingbird carrying one drop of water at a time to fight a forest fire, even as animals like the elephant asked why the hummingbird was wasting his energy.
"It turns to them and tells them, 'I'm doing the best I can.' And that to me is what all of us should do. We should always feel like a hummingbird," she said. "I certainly don't want to be like the animals watching as the planet goes down the drain. I will be a hummingbird. I will do the best I can."
Recognizing that never-say-die attitude, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Maathai's death "strikes at the core of our nation's heart." Odinga said Maathai died just as the causes she fought for were getting the attention they deserve.
The United Nations Environment Program called Maathai one of Africa's foremost environmental campaigners and recalled that Maathai was the inspiration behind UNEP's 2006 Billion Tree Campaign. More than 11 billion trees have been planted so far.
"Wangari Maathai was a force of nature. While others deployed their power and life force to damage, degrade and extract short term profit from the environment, she used hers to stand in their way, mobilize communities and to argue for conservation and sustainable development over destruction," said Achim Steiner, the executive director of UNEP.
Tributes poured out for Maathai online, including from Kenyans who remember planting trees alongside her as schoolchildren. One popular Twitter posting noted that Maathai's knees always seemed to be dirty from showing VIPs how to plant trees. Another poster, noting Nairobi's cloudy skies Monday, said: "No wonder the sun is not shining today."
Her quest to see fewer trees felled and more planted saw her face off against Kenya's powerful elite. At least three times during her activist years she was physically attacked, including being clubbed unconscious by police during a hunger strike in 1992.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Monday called Maathai a "true African heroine." The Nelson Mandela Foundation also expressed sadness. The foundation hosted Maathai in 2005, when she headlined the foundation's annual lecture.
"We need people who love Africa so much that they want to protect her from destructive processes," she said in her address. "There are simple actions we can take. Start by planting 10 trees we each need to absorb the carbon dioxide we exhale."
The spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Maathai was a "pioneer in articulating the links between human rights, poverty, environmental protection and security."
In a statement released by the U.S. State Department, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she was inspired by Maathai's story and "proud to call her my friend."
"Her death has left a gaping hole among the ranks of women leaders, but she leaves behind a solid foundation for others to build upon," she said in the statement.
A long time friend and fellow professor at the University of Nairobi, Vertistine Mbaya said that Maathai showed the world how important it is to have and demonstrate courage.
"The values she had for justice and civil liberties and what she believed were the obligations of civil society and government," Mbaya said. "She also demonstrated the importance of recognizing the contributions that women can make and allowing them the open space to do so."
Njeri Gatonyo, a member of the Green Belt Movement board, said Maathai's organization will continue with the work that Maathai began in 1977. Mbaya said work would continue to establish a Wangari Maathai Institute for Environmental Studies and Peace at the University of Nairobi.
Maathai was the first woman to earn a doctorate in East Africa — in 1971 from the University of Nairobi, where she later was an associate professor in the department of veterinary anatomy. She previously earned degrees from Mount St. Scholastica College — now Benedictine College — in Atchison, Kansas, and the University of Pittsburgh.
The Green Belt Movement said on its website that Maathai's death was a great loss to those who "admired her determination to make the world a more peaceful, healthier and better place." Edward Wageni, the group's deputy executive director, said Maathai died in a Nairobi hospital late Sunday. Maathai had been in and out of the hospital since the beginning of the year, he said.
Maathai is survived by three children. Funeral arrangements were to be announced soon, the Green Belt Movement said. -- (AP)
Isabel Ruth Willis Fambrough had the mind of a scholar, the soul of a diplomat and the spirit of a humanitarian. As a global citizen of the world, she earned the respect of international leaders, and received numerous awards and recognition for a lifetime of achievement in both her personal and professional life. Isabel was a folk artisan: chair caning, ceramicist, weaver, quilter; an avid tennis player; bibliophile; family historian; and supporter of the arts and Black culture. She died October 18. She was 87.
Fambrough was born in Philadelphia on January 5, 1924. She was the fourth child of 10 children born to the late Effie Morgan White Willis and Richard Byrd Willis of Orange County, Va. Educated in the School District of Philadelphia, she graduated from the Thomas Fitzsimons Junior High School on January 30, 1939 and Simon Gratz High School on January 29, 1942. From 1950 to 1951, she was a member of the Spanish Club at the University of Pennsylvania.
As one of the first African Americans to integrate the Department of Navy Aviation Supply, Fambrough spent 34 years as a public servant with the Federal Government and member of the Naval Supply Depot Employee Association.
Her diligent service earned her many commendations and awards that included her work in 1971 as Chairperson of the Supply Chain Management/United Way Fund Raising Drive. After retiring in 1972, she moved to her homestead in Louisa, Va. to care for her aging aunt Cora Willis Glover.
Her Christian experience began at Second Antioch Baptist Church, where she was baptized at a young age under the pastorate of Rev. Davis DeBrady.
She spent time at the North Penn Baptist Church with her brother, Thomas Willis, and along with her friends, Claudia Young Rhea and Pauline Crumbley Brown, attended Sunday school and BYPU. In Virginia, she attended the Shady Grove Baptist Church in Orange, Virginia where the Willis-White-Richardson clan has worshipped since the church was established in 1871.
Among her outstanding civic and professional achievements, Isabel was often called a cultural ambassador to Liberia, sending food, clothing and other supplies. Because of her efforts, she became close friends with Liberia’s President William V.S. Tubman, and in 1965 she was part of a U.N. delegation to Africa to support national unification in Liberia and other parts of West Africa. In 1966, Isabel was crowned “Miss World Fellowship” at the Southwest Belmont Y.W.C.A. in Philadelphia.
Fambrough, along with her late husband, Eugene A. Raymond, an artist who won recognition for his many portraits and murals, was also friends with Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
On July 26, 1958, they attended a reception given by the City of Philadelphia at the National Philatelic Museum, where Nkrumah opened an exhibit on Ghana; and in 1959, Eugene founded the United Friends of Africa, a nonprofit cultural, development and educational organization.
Isabel also became friends with numerous people from various parts of the world. Some of her notable letters and postcards include correspondence from President Tubman and First Lady of Liberia; Kofi Baako, Minister of Information & Broadcasting, Accra, Ghana; and Hong Kong. In 1970, Isabel traveled to Asia developing friendships in Taipei, Hong Kong and Osaka, Japan. She also worked as a travel consultant at E-Jay Travel in her late brother, Adolph “Jack” Willis’, travel agency.
Fambrough was married to Eugene A. Raymond, and then Thomas Fambrough, both of whom preceded her in death.
Her other achievements and memberships include: Eastern Regional Director of the Professional and Business Women’s Sorority, Gamma Phi Delta, Inc., Mu Omicron Chapter, where she was Soror of the Year in 1972 and was honored by Business Women of the Greater Delaware Valley in The Bulletin newspaper on Sunday, January 28, 1979; she was also a member of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, Germantown Household of Ruth, No. 403 of Philadelphia; and was council president of POWERtalk International (formally International Training in Communication & International Toastmistress Clubs).
In Virginia, Fambrough was a founding member of the National Association of Active & Retired Federal Employees of Louisa, Virginia Chapter 2065, where she held several offices in that chapter including the presidency. With AARP, she served as secretary of the state association for many years, and in several officer roles in the local chapter. She was an award-winning 4-H member in Louisa, Va. as well as a 4-H camp volunteer. In the Louisa County Commission on Aging, she represented the Louisa District, and is remembered as a hard worker who kept things together.
She also made the punch for the annual Christmas Dinner which served well over a hundred people. In addition, Isabel was president of the Louisa County Agricultural Fair; president of the Louisa County Extension Homemakers; and member of the Louisa County Federated Women’s Club.
Fambrough leaves to mourn: niece, Yvonne Willis Brooks; siblings, Cecil O. Willis and Irma Willis Clark; sisters-in-law, Lithan Willis and Ruth Willis; dozens of nieces and nephews, a multitude of cousins and a host of friends and admirers.
Isabel was preceded in death by her siblings, Richard, Mabel, Thomas, Wilbur, Lillian, Elmer and Adolph.
Services will be held October 26 at Powell Mortuary Services, 2432 North 27th St. The viewing will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The service will start at 11.
With the sad announcement of the death of Yeadon Fire Company member William W. Neil, Thursday, October 27, 2011, Chief Mike Melazzo somberly stated, “Not only has Yeadon lost a strong community contributor, but Bill’s presence has for many years been felt in a large segment of the state, especially Delaware County.”
School children have lost their friendly, patient crossing guard.
The community’s highly praised Emergency Management organization has lost its leader.
And of course his wife, Barbara, has lost her companion and partner of 28 years.
But Neil will long be remembered by his neighbors, family and friends, who spent this week chronicling his loving nature and years of community service.
Mr. Neil began his many contributions to the Borough of Yeadon when, in 1983, he became involved in Yeadon’s Town Watch, and eventually Delaware County’s companion Town Watch Council. The next year he became an American Red Cross CPR instructor. It was a common sight for people passing the local fire station to see an American Red Cross’ Emergency Response vehicle parked alongside the Borough Hall.
Neil’s friendly nature and magnetic personality were responsible for the recruitment and training of members of the local volunteer Fire Company to serve as Red Cross disaster services members. During Philadelphia’s Mellon Bank fire in 1991, it was Neil who organized the feeding of the legion of firefighters on scene.
These efforts did not go unnoticed. In 1992, Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey appointed Neil as the Emergency Management Coordinator for the Borough of Yeadon, a role he held proudly until his death.
His local responsibilities have included leadership roles in the Fire Company, Flag Day activities, holiday food distribution and advisor to the Emergency Management activities in neighboring East Lansdowne and Lansdowne.
In 1995, Neil received an award for his service to The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades.
Even during his prolonged illness, Neil would not refuse a call to help someone in need. As one of his subordinates stated, “Our corner of the world is a better place because of his efforts.”
A viewing will be held on Wednesday, November 2 at the Yeadon Fire Company, Bailey Road near Church Lane, from 5 to 9 p.m. A tribute service will be held at 7 p.m.
The 11 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 3 Firefighter’s Funeral service is also being held at the Yeadon Fire Company, with the internment to follow at Eden Cemetery, Collingdale.
Following burial, a repast will be held at Yeadon Borough Hall Auditorium. Arrangements were provided by Edney Funeral Home, Sharon Hill.