Florence G. Garrett, 79, community activist

Florence G. Garrett

Florence G. Garrett was always an entrepreneur and hard worker. Her home continued to be a hub of loving support for community children, students, foster children and family who fondly called her “Lady.” Garrett died November 9 of cancer. She was 79.

Garrett wore a number of hats. She opened the Gingham Room Donut Shop, was a City of Philadelphia Crossing Guard, a nurse’s aide at Byberry and a security guard at Germantown Friends School. As physical limitations increased, she was still politically active.

Garrett was born on September 9, 1932 to Emma L. Ervin and Frank Wilson in Belmont, N.C. in 1932. She was loved by her family. At an early age they moved to Harrisburg. She experienced the sting of segregation and difficult times, but always pointed her goals toward a positive end. She met and later married Daniel R. Garrett Sr.

In 1950, the family moved to West Philadelphia. In 1960, she selected Mt. Airy as her home where she has stayed for the duration of her fruitful life.

Her family said that as a devoted mother she always kept a cheerful, neat home where God’s love in Christ set the mark. She was the director of the choir and a member of the Prayer and Faith Temple Church of God in Christ, and later joined Advocate St. United Methodist Church.

Garrett was block captain on her street and worked diligently on community beautification, racial harmony, supporting the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf and eliminating gang violence.

Garrett, along with Joyce and Willie Rush, The Altemares, Leon Walker, Ms. Bair and the Hasaras created The Neighbors of the Hill.

As president, Garrett recruited countless others who together worked with the late Honorable David P. Richardson and late Mayor Frank Rizzo. At that time, District Attorney Ed Rendell became involved to assist in keeping West Mt. Airy a safe place to live.

She worked with Tom Arthurs to secure The Allen Lane Housing Project for low-income and disabled neighbors. Garrett was also instrumental in creating the Child Welfare Advisory Board and volunteered on various citywide boards for Human Services.

She rewarded active community volunteers with an annual trip to Hershey Park for the last 35 years. She received two Chapel of Four Chaplains Awards, a Poe Richards Club Award, the Sampson L. Freedman Humanities Award and various community Awards along with Presidential letters of recognition. She even had the only integrated Street Hockey Team, The Mt. Airy Flames, which went on to state competition.

Garrett is survived by: children, Deborah Garrett, Avis Shaw (Tony), Danese Saunders, Rosalind McKelvey (Howard), Stephanie Garrett, Florence Crystal Grazella (Gary), Daniel R. Garrett Jr., Craig Garrett, Brian Garrett (Arissa) and William Murphy Garrett II (Karen); 26 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and a host of foster grandchildren, friends and relatives who will greatly miss her.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Daniel R. Garrett, and one grandchild.

Services will be held November 18 at Holsey Temple CME Church, 5305 Germantown Ave. The viewing will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The service will start at 11. Deborah L. Wilson Funeral Home handled the arrangements.

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