Darlene I. Branch Smith

Darlene I. Branch Smith was a retired middle school vice principal.

She died on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014 after a prolonged illness. She was 65.

She was born on Nov. 29, 1948 to Ernest A. Branch and Irene Reel in Philadelphia.

She was educated in the School District of Philadelphia and graduated from Overbrook High School in 1966. She graduated from Cheyney State College in 1970 where she majored in elementary education. She obtained her masters of science in education from Rutgers University in 1974.

Her first position was in the Camden, N.J. school system as an elementary school teacher in 1970. Smith’s career in education spanned 35 years in the New Jersey school system until her illness forced her to retire in 2005 from her last position as vice principal of Pyne Middle School in Camden.

She was an avid worker in many organizations but her first love was Tindley Temple United Methodist Church.

Smith served Tindley in various positions throughout the years including as junior usher, Sunday school teacher, member of the Methodist Youth Fellowship, member of the Young Adults ministry and on the Finance Committee. She was a founding member of the Charles Albert Tindley Committee and the Middle Adults Committee. Smith served as the church’s first historian. In one of her last roles, Smith served as chair of the Staff Parish Relations Committee.

In 1990, Smith was initiated into Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Quaker City Alumnae Chapter.

She was a member of the Philadelphia Horticultural Society, as flowers were her passion. She could always be found working in her garden at her home or in the community.

Smith was a founding member of the Friends of Madison Square, a local community organization consisting of homeowners on the 2200 and 2300 block of Madison Square in Philadelphia dedicated to gardening and community improvement. In 2011, they won an award for the City Gardens contest, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Their work was also published in the US Airways magazine.

Smith’s lasting legacy was the creation of the Julian Abele Community Park located at 22nd and Carpenter streets. The park is named in memory of Julian Abele, an African American architect who work included the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Central Branch of the Philadelphia Free Library. She served as the first president of the Friends of the Julian Abele Park for three years.

She was preceded in death by her parents.

She is survived by her husband William; brother Gregory (Belinda); aunts Nadine Charlton and Helen Lahr; sister-in-law Barbara Johnson; 13 nieces; four nephews; godsons Robert Felder and Paul Munez and other relatives and friends.

Services were held Nov. 25 at 11 a.m. at Tindley Temple United Methodist Church, 750-60 S. Broad St.

Baker Funeral Home handled the arrangements.

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