Shirley Turpin-Parham was employed by the Philadelphia Public School District for 30 years during which she was a museum teacher and researcher at the African-American History Museum. She later worked as a professor at Cheyney University as a teacher of Black History. Turpin-Parham died on Feb. 8. She was 73.
“My sister was a kind and loving and caring person,” said Naomi Turpin-Crumley. “She believed that African-American people should know of their rich heritage and their spiritual strength because those things have brought us this far.
“She also believed that no matter what the circumstance of birth the challenges of the present, we as an African people must get involved and move forward to make a better future,” she added.
Turpin-Parham was born on September 26, 1938 in Brooklyn, N.Y to Samuel Louis Turpin and Shirley Handy Turpin. She graduated from Chester High School in Chester in 1956.
She then attended Morgan State University and Cheyney University. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Cheyney in 1962. She went on to earn her Master’s degree in Education and Urban Studies from Temple University where she also received her doctorate of education.
She met and married Joseph W. Parham, Sr. and they became the proud parents of Rolison W. Turpin and Joseph W. Parham, II.
Turpin-Parham was a dedicated member of Tindley Temple United Methodist Church. She served in various capacities, including Sunday school teacher and Christ serving minister and Vice President of the Central District, Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.
Her past membership and affiliations included African Sisterhood, Social Studies Council, Rho Theta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History – to name a few.
Her family said Turpin-Parham took great pride in her work with the committees at the Clivedon House and Johnson House, which were associated with the Underground Railroad.
She was a historian who was greatly appreciated in Philadelphia and the State of Pennsylvania. She worked tirelessly in publishing numerous articles, critiques and lectures of African-American history, life and culture.
“My sister is one that once she grabbed hold to something, she continued,” Turpin-Crumley said.
“I will never be the person that she was and I’m just so proud that she was my sister.”
Among the awards she received were as Founding President and Appreciation for Dedicated Services as President for several years with the PhilaMontco Brand of the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, Hall of Fame induction for Dedication and Contributions to Cheyney University and recognition by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, North Atlantic Region for Accomplishments as Educator/African-American History Specialist.
Turpin-Parham’s family said her yearning to experience the culture of her people and to see the lands from which they came took her to Africa and the Caribbean.
Turpin-Parham leaves to mourn: sons, Rolison and Joseph; mother, Shirley H. Turpin; sisters, Naomi Turpin-Crumley and Cora M. Turpin; grandsons, Rolison W. Turpin, II and Ryan W. Turpin; four great grandsons and a host of relatives and friends.
Turpin-Parham was preceded in death by her husband, Joseph W. Parham Sr.
A viewing will be held Feb. 15 at Powell Mortuary Services, 2432 N. 27th Street from 3 to 5 p.m. A second viewing will be held on Feb. 16 at Tindley Temple United Methodist Church, 750 South Broad St. from 9 to 11 a.m. The service will begin at 11.