Erma Lee Ethridge Winslow died on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019 after a brief illness. She was 95.
She was born on Oct. 1, 1923 in Newark, New Jersey, to Zack and Olivia Ethridge. From that union, she had one brother, Reuben Ethridge, who died shortly after birth.
After she graduated from South Side High School in 1942, Winslow then embarked on a singing career. She performed in night clubs across the country and in Canada with some of the biggest names in the Big Band jazz era, such as Lionel Hampton, The Madhatters and Red Prysock. She also toured in shows headlined by big name comedians at the time, Redd Foxx and Nipsey Russell. She received some recognition from a New York City critic, calling her “an attractive sepian songstress who’s been working some of the Newark, New Jersey nighteries. Erma Ethridge is making her first stab at the Gotham big time at this Greenwich Village club. She impresses as an okay dispenser of torch numbers who, with a little more experience, can move easily into plushier uptown spots.”
Other notices of her performances later showed that she got that experience. Headlines in one paper stated that she “Bowls ‘Em Over in Cincinnati.” Another called her a “singer of first-rank talent.” Her singing career took her to the West Coast, as well. While she was a resident in Oakland, California, an article noted that she was a member of the USO Troupe of Entertainers during World War II, “and was processed and screened with a trip overseas as her goal when the war ended, stopping the proposed trip.” The article also noted a highlight of her “very early career” was a radio appearance at 6.
She married Charles Winslow in 1954 and their union produced a daughter, Olivia Winslow. The couple divorced in 1970. Charles Winslow preceded her in death.
After she married and became a mother, Erma Lee Ethridge Winslow stopped singing professionally except for singing in church, at Mount Zion CME in Sharon Hill, and at talent shows at work.
She had a 30-year career with several federal military installations: The Signal Corps, the General Defense Supply and the Naval Regional Contracting Center, all in Philadelphia. She started as a secretary, and rose in the ranks to Supervisory Procurement Clerk when she retired in 1988. She won numerous commendations for her job performance.
Winslow was preceded in death by her companion of four decades, Wesley Weaver.
In addition to her daughter, Winslow is survived by: a niece, Deborah Winslow Quattlebaum, of York; a great-niece, Aleesa Quattlebaum, of Harrisburg; and members of the Weaver family who have aided her over the years, Michael Weaver Sr., Deirdre Weaver Ford, of Sharon Hill; Anthony Weaver, of Maryland; Anjele Kane-Fillis and Alycia Ford, of Sharon Hill. Winslow also is survived by her dear friends of Hermesprota Drive in Sharon Hill who helped her tremendously during her golden years so she could remain independent, in particular Richard Bacon, Shirley and Erica Owens, and Doris Herbert.
Services will be held Tuesday, Sept. 10. The viewing is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Services will follow at 12 p.m. at Claude J. Edney Memorial Chapel 634 Sharon Ave., Darby Township.
Burial will be at Historic Eden Cemetery, 1434 Springfield Road, Collingdale.
Claude J. Edney Funeral Home, Inc. handled the arrangements.