Earl Morton Washington Jr. was a bus driver hired by the Philadelphia Transit Company (PTC). He was a devoted Christian, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend. Washington died Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 at Chestnut Hill Hospital of natural causes. He was 92.
He was born Sept. 21, 1920 in Philadelphia to the late Dorothy E. Gilliam and Earl M. Washington, Sr.
He was baptized at Enon Baptist Church at an early age under the pastorship of the late Rev. Frank B. Mitchell, Sr. He later joined Mount Airy Church of God in Christ under the pastorship of Bishop Ernest C. Morris, Sr. when the church was located on Sharpnack Street in Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia.
During his 38 years of service at Mt. Airy Church, he served as usher, bus driver and worked in the Mt. Airy Christian Day School for the security/maintenance department. He served as an active deacon for as long as his health permitted. The “Crying Deacon” as he became known in church was honored Sept. 30 at Mt. Airy’s tribute to Black history makers.
Washington was educated in the Philadelphia public school system through the 10th grade and then transferred to and graduated from Thyne Institute in Chase City, Va. Upon graduation in 1941, he enrolled in Tuskegee Institute until he was drafted into the United States Army in 1942.
During his military service he was promoted to sergeant during WWII until he was honorably discharged in 1944. He earned several medals and accommodations during his service and was recently honored by ACES Museum in Philadelphia as a WWII veteran.
Upon leaving the Army, he married Virginia Flowers on Jan. 12, 1946. From this union, five children were born.
Washington was known for his excellent work ethics. He consistently provided for his family. His first job upon returning to Philadelphia, after his military service, was with Budd Company located on Hunting Park Avenue in the shipping and receiving department. He left Budd and became employed by PTC, now known as SEPTA, where he drove the 23 Trolley until his retirement after 39 years of service.
According to his family, if he saw one of his children or one of their friends on Germantown Avenue during school hours while he was driving the trolley, he would stop the trolley in the middle of the street with passengers, get out and yell to whomever he saw to “get their butts back in school.”
Washington was an active member of his community. During his 50-plus years living on West Weaver Street, he served as president of the West Weaver Street Civic Group for many years. He organized trips and drove the neighborhood children to places like Parvin State Park and Clementon Lake Park in New Jersey and Hershey Amusement Park in Pennsylvania.
He enjoyed playful teasing with his family. He loved playing pool, bowling and basketball throughout his life.
Washington was preceded in death by his sister, Lillian Allen, and granddaughter, Tara.
In addition to his wife of 66 years, Washington is survived by five children and their spouses; Earlene, Craig (Jean), Garry (Taryn), Brent (Linda) and Dorthea (Adam); grandchildren, Mark, Anika, Salim, Garry Jr., Cory, Tiffany, Knea, MingCorya, Brent Jr., and Robert; 12 great-grandchildren; niece, Lillian; sister-in-law, Nannie and other relatives and friends.
A wake will be held Dec. 6 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Ervina White Beauford Funeral Service, 2134 Stenton Ave. Viewing will be held Dec. 7 at 9 a.m. at Mt. Airy God in Christ, 6401 Ogontz Ave. Services will follow at 11 a.m. Burial will be in Rolling Green Memorial Park, West Chester.