Wilma Jean Coker was a seamstress who specialized in elegant formal wear.
Coker died Sept. 24, 2011. She was 83.
Coker was born Aug. 15, 1928 to Elder David Wesley Young and Asliee Wilson Young in Franklin County, Ala.
She was educated in the Alabama public school system. After high school, she attended Hampton Institute in Hampton, Va.
During her undergraduate years, Coker pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and served on the court of the Fidi Amici social club. She majored in home economics and received a bachelor’s degree in 1951. After graduating, Coker taught school until shortly after she married.
While in high school, she met the love of her life, Millard Paul Coker Jr. The two hometown sweethearts dated for a couple of years until they were joined in marriage on Dec. 24, 1953, in Florence, Ala. They moved to Philadelphia in 1954. From this union, a son, Millard Paul Coker III, was born.
Coker had an amazing sense of style and was a gifted seamstress. Upon settling in Philadelphia, she pursued this passion.
She started her own dressmaking business, specializing in elegant formal wear and wedding gowns. Coker was known throughout the Philadelphia fashion community for her exceptionally fine work.
For many years she was associated with boutique owner, Berta Sawyer, who, among many, sought Coker for her expertise in fashion and alterations, as well as friendship.
Coker loved family and friends. She was a devoted wife. She shared with Millard the mutual joy of socializing with friends, entertaining and preparing wonderful family meals and holiday dinners.
She actively supported his passion and participation in Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. serving as a Quette. She utilized her appreciation for beautiful clothing to help organize luncheon fashion shows to benefit the fraternity’s student scholarship program, as well as her church. She was a longstanding member of Germantown Community Presbyterian Church, where she served on the hospitality committee.
As a dedicated and caring mother, Coker served as the den mother for her son’s Cub Scout troop. She nurtured his talent in photography through her genuine interest in pictures, organizing a substantial collection of photographs and albums that she proudly displayed. She welcomed daughter-in-law, Maxine, to whom she was so generous. Making her wedding gown was truly a labor of love. Coker was overjoyed with the addition of her only grandchild, Allison.
In addition to sewing her beautiful outfits, she willingly volunteered at her school — baking pies, binding books, making costumes and even sewing a life-size deer for a class play.
In the months preceding her death, Coker faced the challenges of declining health with dignity and grace.
She is survived by her husband, Millard Paul Coker Jr.; son, Millard Paul Coker III; daughter-in-law, Maxine Kilson Coker; granddaughter, Allison Coker; and other relatives and friends.
A viewing will be held Saturday at 9 a.m. Saturday at Germantown Community Presbyterian Church, 6141 Greene St. Services will follow at 10. Burial is in Chelten Hills Cemetery, 1701 East Washington Lane.