Erma Willis, a former Philadelphia General Hospital employee, died on Saturday, June 29, 2019. She was 104.
She was affectionately known as “Grandma.”
She was born on Nov. 4, 1914, in Ferebeeville, South Carolina, to the late Richard and Sarah Ferebee. In 1920, the family relocated to Savannah, Georgia, where she was educated in the public school system.
Willis began her work career in Savannah as a waitress in many of the local hotels, including the General Oglethorpe Hotel on Wilmington Island and the Desoto Beach Resort on Tybee Island.
In 1933 she met and married George Flowers and one daughter was born to their union. She later divorced and moved to Philadelphia in 1947, where she met and married the late Isaac Willis Jr.
Willis worked at the Philadelphia General Hospital for 25 years as part of the dining room staff. She retired in 1972 and remained active in the hospital bowling league and numerous other leagues throughout the city. She traveled all over the country to compete in bowling tournaments. Her trophy case overflowed as a result of her bowling exploits.
Willis was an avid baseball fan and loved going to games. She taught her grandsons how to keep a score card, following the Philadelphia Phillies. She even celebrated with some of the team players when they won the 1980 World Series.
One of her greatest joys was spoiling her grand, great-grand and great-great-grandchildren. Willis always enjoyed having family and friends in her home, where spirited card games ensued.
She will be fondly remembered by residents of the 5500 block of Pemberton Street, where she has resided since 1955.
“She was lovingly outspoken and genuinely concerned for all the people she knew,” her family said in a tribute. “She was charismatic, fun to be around and loved a good laugh and the company of people.”
She was preceded in death by her sisters, Lillian Ferebee-Brookins and Bennie-Mae Ferebee; brother, Edward “Eddie” Ferebee; grandson, Eric German; great-granddaughter, Tashara Hosey and nephew, Phillip Brookins.
She is survived by: her daughter, Dorothy Flowers-German; grandsons, Francis A. German (Shirley), Tyrone “Tiny” German (Arniece), Michael German, Christopher German (Crystal) and Stewart German; nieces, Yvonne Brookins-Graham and Elaine Brookins-Sutton; nephew, William “Greg” Brookins; eight great-great-grandchildren; and two great-great-great-grandchildren.
Services were held July 9 at Vine Memorial Baptist Church, 5600 W. Girard Ave. She is buried in Mt. Lawn Cemetery.
Wood Funeral Home handled the arrangements.