Thomas Melvin Rogers, called Tom, had many hobbies that he enjoyed, including singing, cooking and carpentry. He worked with the Philadelphia Sanitation Department where his co-workers affectionately gave him the nickname “Candyman,” because of his love for candy. He died on Jan. 24. He was 70.
Rogers was born on Dec. 22, 1941 in Mt. Vernon Springs, N.C. to Florence and Charlie Rogers. He was educated in the Philadelphia public schools.
At a young age, he joined Greater St. Matthew Independent Methodist Church. At age 18, he joined the United States Air Force. Later, he was employed with Boeing in Eddystone. Then he worked with the Philadelphia Sanitation Department.
He is survived by his wife, Margie; mother, Florence Rodgers; two sisters, Cecelia Townsend (Lincoln) and Fannie Alexander; son, Kevin Rogers (Siedah); four daughters, Michelle Harbin (Glen), Anjenette, Kimberly Rogers and Kia Coleman (Darren); stepdaughter, Sandra Elaine Brown; four sisters-in-law, Barbara Brown, Jessie Bryan (Leon), Rosa Lee Sheppard (Esau) and Yvonne Greene (Ulysses); nine grandchildren, Kimberly, Kevin Jr., Amber, Latanya, Jasmine, Glen Jr., Ron, Dontae and Shantae; four great-grandchildren, Tori, Jamire, Jasir and Danielle; and two special friends, Mary Memminger and George Campbell.
Services were held Jan. 30 at Loyal Baptist Church.
Jeanette Shell loved to be in the company of her family and friends, and she was always ready to “do her dance,” especially to the “oldies” on Sunday.
Throughout her life, she was actively involved in sheltered workshops, including Carousel House and JEVS. Jeanette also enjoyed summer vacations to the New Jersey shore with her family, and with Special Vacations, Inc. She died on January 18. She was 67.
Shell was born on May 24, 1944, in Philadelphia. She lived with her family in the Strawberry Mansion section of North Philadelphia and was known to everyone in the neighborhood.
Her family said she always had a smile, inviting hello and a ready handshake for everyone who passed by the house. She attended special education classes at Carmen Elementary School in South Philadelphia.
She loved the Lord and was baptized by the late Rev. Willie Lewis at the New Birth Baptist Church.
After the death of Rev. Lewis, she regularly attended Calvary United Church of Christ located at 29th Street and Lehigh Avenue. After church, she could be heard singing hymns and gospel songs spontaneously or along with the radio, as she continued to praise the Lord.
In May 2009, Shell became a resident at COMHAR in North Philadelphia and participated in the Zanderwoude Day Program. The residents and staff at COMHAR became her extended family. She loved them, and they cared for her with love and respect.
Shell leaves to mourn: mother, Margaret Streeter; sisters, Kathryn S. Lewis, Ellen A. Small and Marilyn Streeter; brothers-in-law, Michael J. Lewis and George Small; sister-in-law, Edith Streeter; niece, Chereese Martin; nephews, Michael S. Lewis and Allyn Jacobs (Shanta); two great-nieces and a great-nephew; cousins, friends, neighbors and her COMHAR extended family.
Services were held January 26 at Pinn Memorial Baptist Church. Slater Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
The Rev. Terrence D. Griffith was installed as the new president of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia & Vicinity on Jan. 29, during a service at his church, First African Baptist of Philadelphia.
The Black Clergy, in celebration of its 30th year of service to the community, passed the torch from Bishop Audrey F. Bronson to Griffith. A member of the Black Clergy for the past six years, he had been the first vice president for more than two years.
“The body made a decision that I was the best person to lead for the next few years, and I accepted the challenge,” Griffith said.
Many elected officials, including Mayor Michael Nutter, joined the clergy and other members of the community for Griffith’s moment.
“They were all there last night, and they heard the message of the Black Clergy, and this message is we will be heard,” Griffith said.
“That’s our new tagline, ‘We will be heard.’ So, I’ll feel much better at the end of my term and I can look back and say, we moved the needle and we’ve made a difference in Philadelphia.”
Bronson’s two-year term as president ended last December. Griffith had only praise for his predecessor. She was also among the many honoring him.
“Bishop Bronson is an endearing woman, a bold pioneering woman. I love her a lot. She actually will be working in my administration.
“She’s just a fine, fine lady and I tip my hat to her. I learned a tremendous amount from serving together with Bishop Bronson.”
Bronson returned the kind words.
“He has a very ambitious agenda and I think he’s going to do a very good job if he’s able to do everything he has in mind,” she said.
“I think he’s going to do great.”
Under Bronson’s leadership, the Black Clergy worked in cooperation with Nutter’s office on a variety of issues such as job development, rehabilitation for ex-offenders, and educational concerns.
Nutter said he was certain that Griffith would continue the clergy’s commitment toward being an important voice in the city’s political, social, religious and spiritual landscape.
“Reverend Griffith is a great pastor and leader, a friend and an adviser. I fully support his message. The Black Clergy of Philadelphia & Vicinity is determined to be heard in both City Hall and the Statehouse, and I welcome a collaborative partnership with him and his executive team,” he said.
“They are going to make a difference on issues such as crime, jobs, quality of life and education. We are fortunate to have his leadership.”
Griffith outlined his three-pronged attack to address these issues. He said he would direct the Black Clergy to focus on social, economic and political justice. In doing so, it would be a throwback to the organization’s roots.
The Black Clergy was organized in 1981 in response to a school strike that lasted more than 51 days. Various ministers tried to bring about a resolution by blocking traffic at the intersection at Broad and Vine streets and disrupting the flow of business. Many of the ministers were arrested, but the demonstration yielded a breakthrough between the teachers’ union and the school board.
“We want to push for the largest voter registration drive and get out the vote in Philadelphia. And in terms of economic justice, we want to ensure that minorities in the city receive a fair share of city contracts, school district contracts, airport contracts,” Griffith said.
“On the political side, to certainly ensure that elected officials are held accountable for the promises that they’ve made and that they’re not getting free lunches and they’re doing what they’re supposed to do.”
The Rev. Larry L. Marcus, pastor of Greater Faith Baptist Church, was confident of Griffith’s ability. He is the treasurer of the Black Clergy and has worked alongside Griffith.
“I think that he is a visionary who has a very solid plan for moving the Black Clergy forward — and not only Black Clergy, but the community in which he’d be serving. He has laid out a very positive vision and mission statement,” Marcus said.
“I think yesterday’s celebration gave not only the clergy an insight in terms of the vision of President Griffith, but I also believe, for the politicians and business community people, that it gave them an opportunity to hear the vision that he has, which also helps to solidify the purpose of President Griffith and where he’s leading this organization,” he said.
Griffith has been the senior pastor of First African Baptist Church of Philadelphia for the past decade. A former senator in the Grenada parliament, he is the 13th spiritual head of the third oldest African Baptist Church in the nation.
He also sits on the executive committee of the Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc. and has written eight books. The married father of two said he was not weary from finding equilibrium in the midst of all his responsibilities.
“When you look at Martin Luther King Jr., who was a pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, but at the same time, the nation called upon him to lead the civil rights struggle, when you look at that and certainly to me that’s more demanding, and to me that’s what the church was called to do,” Griffith said.
“We definitely believe that if God has brought you to a task, he’ll give you the energy and the strength to accomplish what you need to accomplish. I don’t feel that overwhelmed. I feel the more you have to do, the less idle time you have on your hands.”
Contact staff writer Stephanie Guerilus at (215) 893-5725 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
James Rouse Sr. was a resident and homeowner in North Philadelphia. The U.S. Army veteran died on Jan. 23 of complications of kidney disease. He was 68.
“I am so glad we could all be there for my husband,” said wife, Mary Rouse. “He was alert and able to communicate until about a week before his death. We watched him suffer and were relieved when he was at peace. The peace of God was evident on his face. I was able to be by his side to the end.”
Rouse was born on Oct. 20, 1943, in Philadelphia to Laura Rouse and James Daniel Melvin. He was one of eight children and was educated in the Philadelphia school district. He graduated from Southern High School in 1963. He served in the U.S. Army as a military police officer in the 1960s.
“I always wondered why my dad did not join the police force after his discharge. However, he seemed to be perfectly satisfied that he did his fair share in the military,” said son, James Jr.
On Jan. 16, 1965, he married the love of his life, Mary Virginia James.
“We were truly blessed to have our dad,” said daughter Yvette. “We knew that he loved our mother deeply. That gave us great comfort and security. Then, he made us know how important we were to him.”
After his honorable discharge in 1966, Rouse was self-employed as a fruit truck operator. He also worked simultaneously as a press operator at Jentzen Printing Press for ten years. In 1973, he was employed by Unisys Corporation as a domestic engineer. After 27 years of dedicated service, he retired in 2000 with the final title of domestic engineer supervisor. His most passionate job was as a “hack man” for the community, a service he provided for over 20 years.
“James accepted the Lord as his personal Savior many years ago. He would often have our family attend services at the Enon Baptist Church. I was very active and he supported my efforts,” said his wife. “He continued to attend Enon Baptist Church under the leadership of the Rev. S.D. Neely Sr. As he faced challenges to his health, he still attended when he was able.”
An active community member, Rouse was a member of the Masons and was known and loved throughout the community.
“Although he fathered only two children, he was everybody’s dad. He was co-founder of Our Gang and Teen, Incorporated, which served as a haven for many young people,” James Jr. said.
His daughter, Yvette, continued.
“He would gather us up and have us climb into the back of his pick-up truck,” she said. “We had a tarp-like cover that we held over us. The kids in the middle had it good. Those on the corners had to keep the cover tight. And, oh, when it rained we really got it, but we always had fun.
“Nobody refused to ride whenever Dad put out the call,” Yvette said. “Dad and Mom loved to entertain, so we had BBQs at will and hosted an annual block party with plenty of food and fun.”
Rouse is survived by wife, Mary Rouse; children, James Rouse Jr. and Yvette Vennetta Rouse; grandson, Devin Jamaar Rouse; granddaughter, Stephanie Rouse; great granddaughter, Egypt Sinai Yvette Presley; siblings, Robert Rouse (Brenda), David Rouse and Dorothy Rouse; a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law; two special caregivers, Darryl McKinney and his niece, Terie Griffin, as well as many friends.
Rouse was preceded in death by siblings, Delores Clark, Jesse Rouse, Myron Rouse and Sarah Griffin.
Services were held on Jan. 28, at Enon Baptist Church, 1831 Green St. Sabbath Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Lillie Rose Stanback loved both teaching and learning and returned to college and obtained a Master of Education degree from Antioch College in 1976.
Lillie continued to teach elementary school in Philadelphia for over 30 years. In 1990, she received a citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the City of Philadelphia for her years of dedication to teaching elementary school. Lillie retired as a schoolteacher after 35 years in 1995.
Stanback died on Jan. 5. She was 79.
Stanback was born on Feb. 3, 1932, in Durham County, N.C., as the second child born to Ollie Stanback and Addie Mae Wall. She spent her formative years in the Durham–Rockingham, N.C. area and graduated from Rockingham High School.
Stanback attended Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1953, and obtained her certification to teach English. Shortly thereafter, she relocated to Philadelphia, where she obtained her teaching certificate and taught in the schools.
Although she retired from teaching, Stanback was not finished contributing and making the world a better place. In her hometown of Rockingham, N.C., Stanback was known for her interest in the communities and its citizens. Her generous donations and support of the Piney Grove–Galestown Community Center, Piney Grove AME Zion Church, New Silver Grove AME Zion Church, Walls Chapel AME Zion Church and Mt. Sinai Baptist Church were unparalleled. In addition to her interests in North Carolina, she contributed to many charitable organizations including the World Wildlife Federation, UNICEF and the United Spinal Association.
Stanback leaves to mourn sister, Dorethea Stanback Shuler and several nieces and nephews.
A memorial service was held on Jan. 28, at Slater Funeral Home.
Condolences may be sent to 5749 Haddington Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19131. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to Bennett College in Stanback’s name.