Nellie Mae White Washington had a long term nursing career.
Washington died Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 at Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley. She was 106.
She was born on Aug. 13, 1906 in Philadelphia to the late Thomas and Irene White.
“Nellie, affectionately known as ‘Nana’ throughout most of her life, was an energetic lady with a sense of humor and quick wit that she shared with all who came in contact with her during her 106-year journey,” her family said.
She received her early education The Order of the Blessed Sacrament Nuns, an order founded for the purpose of providing education to African and Native Americans by Saint Katherine Drexel. She then became one of the few African Americans to attend Philadelphia High School for Girls. This fact was relatively insignificant to her, her family said.
She continued her education at the James Martin School of Practical Nursing and became a licensed practical nurse.
She joined the nursing staff at Hahnemann University Hospital. After many years at Hahnemann, she became a private duty nurse, caring for the sick and elderly.
“Countless times she opened her home to sick family members and friends in need of her care,” her family said.
She retired from the nursing profession in 1962.
Washington insisted that her granddaughter, Sylvia Wright, attend the James Martin School of Practical Nursing. Even though it was against her wishes at the time, Wright attended nursing school and now describes the experience as one of her greatest blessings.
She married Frank Washington on May 23, 1925 and from that union two children were born. They were members of St. Benedict Catholic Church for 30 years prior to his passing in 1992.
Washington lived independently in her home until age 93. In 1998, she moved to Stapeley in Germantown, now known as Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley. She developed special relationships with many caregivers during her 13 years at Stapeley.
She was an avid reader who enjoyed completing crossword puzzles in The Bulletin and The New York Times. Her family said she wasn’t happy when The Bulletin closed its doors, often stating that the puzzles in other newspapers were “less challenging.”
“Nana’s mind was alert to the very end and those around her marveled at her memory,” her family said.
In addition to her husband, Washington was preceded in death by her daughter, Nellie Irene; son, Frank Washington Jr. and great-grandson, Richard Bernhardt, Jr.
In addition to her granddaughter, Washington is survived by her grandchildren, Sabir Hameen (Barry Washington), Dianne Sutton-Crowder, Yusef Hameen (Wayne Blackson) and Dawn Blackson; 11 great-grandchildren; 16 great-great grandchildren and other relatives and friends.
Services will be held Dec. 7 at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church, 1940 Chelten Ave. Viewing will be held at 9:30 a.m. Services will follow at 10:30 a.m. Burial is in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.