Willie James Ferrell Jr., a loving husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather and entrepreneur died on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 after a lengthy illness at Phoenixville Hospital. He was 87.
Ferrell was born in Philadelphia on Aug. 13, 1932. He was one of four children of the late Willie James Ferrell Sr. and Catherine Neighbors Ferrell.
He was raised in Philadelphia and was educated in the Philadelphia School system. A graduate of Overbrook High School, he participated in track and field and worked after school selling watermelons, off the back of a truck, for a dollar. Ferrell’s interest in business dictated his employment path following high school. His employment history included management positions at McDonald’s, Rite Aid, and Aramark. His sons reflected on the advice he continuously gave them, “If you don’t own it, you must at least become the manager of the establishment.”
Becoming the owner/operator of Ferrell’s Franks in The Gallery at 8th and Market Streets was a highlight of his employment history. With the help of his family, Ferrell’s Franks thrived for 10 years. Ferrell’s Franks operated under the slogan, “The only dog you ever want to bite.”
At one-point Ferrell’s Franks had four locations and in 1992 received the Small Business of the Year Award from the city of Philadelphia and then mayor Ed Rendell. Ferrell’s humor, friendliness, business acumen and strong work ethic were instrumental in the success of his business and the business was a teaching tool for his sons.
Ferrell married Willamae Kittrels, the love of his life; he had known her since she was 14 years-old. That union resulted in the birth of six sons: Terryl, Stephen, LaMont, Jamar (deceased), Jacin, and Dion. Although a native Philadelphian, Yeadon was the place that he and Willamae chose to raise their family. Their family was recognized in the community as the family with all of the boys and often referred to as the “Black Brady Bunch” because they ate dinner together every day at six o’clock.
“His sons remember him as a straight shooter and a strong disciplinarian,” the family said in a tribute. “Family was important to Ferrelll and he especially enjoyed any opportunity for family get-togethers. Sometimes those get-togethers were at his home, other times in the park or perhaps at the home of another family member. Whatever the occasion or wherever it was held, you were sure to find him enjoying whatever food was served. To say he enjoyed eating was an understatement.”
Visits to the Ferrell home meant he was going to greet you with a big smile, a firm handshake, and a huge dose of humor as he was quite the comedian. He loved God, he loved his family and he loved life. He will be sorely missed by his many family members and friends. He was predeceased by his brother Linwood Ferrell; sister Eugenia Montague; son Jamar; grandson Stephen Terick and other family members.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by: sons Terryl (Shawn), Stephen (Cydney), LaMont, Jacin, and Dion (Tiffany); a brother Donald (Josephine); a daughter-in-law Sitti Ferrell; granddaughters Shana, Tarre, and Layla; grandsons Terryl Jr., Yasir, Shane, and Dion Jr; great granddaughter Kayla and a host of relatives and friends.
Services will be held on Friday, Oct. 18 at Holy Temple Church of God In Christ (COGIC), 60th and Callowhill Streets. Viewing will be from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Service will begin at 10 a.m. Interment will be at Rolling Green Memorial Park in West Chester.