Daisy Myers was dubbed as the “Rosa Parks of the North” because she and her family refused to leave their home, which was in a white neighborhood in Levittown, Bucks County in August 1957. She was an educator and her husband, William, was an engineer. They wanted a bigger home for their family of three children, but their neighbors mobilized and tried to force them to leave through intimidation, harassment, vandalism and racist taunts being directed at them for weeks.
Myers, a former school principal in York, Pennsylvania died on Dec. 5. She was 86.
The Myers moved into Bucks County Home on the same day that the U.S. troops enforced the integration of Little Rock High School in Arkansas. The rioting, which ensued, was tolerated by local law enforcement. The harassment came to an end under the orders of then-Gov. George Leader who sent in state troopers and after a court injunction was issued.
The Myerses received national attention over their treatment. However, she never became bitter over what happened. The family remained in Levittown for five more years before moving to York. She wrote a book about the ordeal, “Sticks and Stones.”
Myers returned in 2003 to attend an exhibit, “Levittown: A Home of our Own” at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Dolyestown that showcased the development.
“I remember well the bad days and nights,” she said at the time. “But I also remember the good days, the good people and their good deeds.”
Services were held Dec. 10 at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, 925 S. George St.
The Philadelphia Daily News contributed to this report.
Nazarene Baptist Church welcomed back former pastors, congregants and invited well-wishers to help them celebrate its 115th anniversary.
Pastor K. Marshall Williams Sr. was buoyed by the turnout and festivities, which included a banquet, music ministry concert and a revival in addition to the culmination of the worship service.
“It was awesome. It was a tremendous celebration of what the Lord has done in our church and community in the last 115 years,” Williams said.
“I was just humbled that the Lord allowed me to be a part of it. It’s a very humbling experience to be a part of something so great and wonderful and life changing.”
Williams is the sixth pastor in the church’s long history. He has been at the pulpit since June 1984. Under his leadership, membership has grown. He also led Nazarene in its Capital Stewardship Campaign which raised $1.2 million toward the church’s building fund, culminating in the construction and completion of a $3.2 million church edifice in May 1996.
“I’m honored and humbled by him that he would trust me being the under-shepherd to this flock,” he said.
Dr. William L. Banks, who pastored at Nazarene from 1956 to 1970, preached at the milestone service. Banks shared why he believed Nazarene has sustained itself for so many years.
“We stay doing things that please the Lord, living a clean life and exalting Jesus Christ,” Banks said.
He also praised Williams’ ability to be there for his congregation.
“He has an evangelistic fervor in his preaching,” Banks said.
“[He has] good preaching, good fellowship and a loving people.”
Dr. James L. Cherry, who served as minister of Nazarene after Banks, was also in attendance.
“Being invited back is just something, it is so overwhelming; to see so many people you knew, worked with, served with,” Cherry said.
Cherry described Nazarene as being Bible-based and Christ-centered. He gave Williams the credit for shaping the ministry.
“A great leader,” Cherry said.
“He loves the Lord. He loves the people of Nazarene as I did and he is a great leader, leading them very well.”
Susan Moody, the church historian at Nazarene, spoke of her longtime membership and what kept her coming back every Sunday.
“The church withstood all of the challenges of the late 19th century and the 20th century and this millennium by standing on the word of God,” she said.
“We’ve been changing with the times without changing the mission.”
The 40-year veteran of Nazarene also found the church’s pastor to be another bedrock of its endurance.
“We’ve had very committed ministers. To have six ministers in 115 years is an achievement and we’ve had a very diverse congregation,” she said.
“The pastor of our church is a true shepherd. Aside from preaching and teaching the word of God, he has a definite passion for the needs of the congregation.”
Glenn Simmons is a youth in the church and has been worshipping at Nazarene for the past seven years.
“Our pastor, he always preaches a good word and it’s very humbling to be there,” Simmons said.
“He’s an unbelievable pastor. If you’re in need or sick, he’ll come visit you. “
Norma Blanks, another congregant of Nazarene who has been there for 58 years, echoed the sentiments regarding Williams.
“He’s a God-sent man. He’s a god-living man. He preaches the word. He teaches the word and he’s about his congregation. Not everybody is like that,” Blanks said.
“We love the Lord, and we like to take the word out to the people because you’re not supposed to keep the word of God to yourself, but you’re supposed to take it out to the word so that the world might know about Jesus Christ.”
Williams said that Nazarene would continue its vision to serve God under the banner of his love.
“I think number one, to teach people to glorify the Lord in all that we do. And to build up the saints, the body of Christ and to help people who don’t know Christ to know him and know of his love and mercy for mankind,” he said.
“People would rather see a sermon than hear a sermon anyway.”
With the sad announcement of the death of Yeadon Fire Company member William W. Neil, Thursday, October 27, 2011, Chief Mike Melazzo somberly stated, “Not only has Yeadon lost a strong community contributor, but Bill’s presence has for many years been felt in a large segment of the state, especially Delaware County.”
School children have lost their friendly, patient crossing guard.
The community’s highly praised Emergency Management organization has lost its leader.
And of course his wife, Barbara, has lost her companion and partner of 28 years.
But Neil will long be remembered by his neighbors, family and friends, who spent this week chronicling his loving nature and years of community service.
Mr. Neil began his many contributions to the Borough of Yeadon when, in 1983, he became involved in Yeadon’s Town Watch, and eventually Delaware County’s companion Town Watch Council. The next year he became an American Red Cross CPR instructor. It was a common sight for people passing the local fire station to see an American Red Cross’ Emergency Response vehicle parked alongside the Borough Hall.
Neil’s friendly nature and magnetic personality were responsible for the recruitment and training of members of the local volunteer Fire Company to serve as Red Cross disaster services members. During Philadelphia’s Mellon Bank fire in 1991, it was Neil who organized the feeding of the legion of firefighters on scene.
These efforts did not go unnoticed. In 1992, Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey appointed Neil as the Emergency Management Coordinator for the Borough of Yeadon, a role he held proudly until his death.
His local responsibilities have included leadership roles in the Fire Company, Flag Day activities, holiday food distribution and advisor to the Emergency Management activities in neighboring East Lansdowne and Lansdowne.
In 1995, Neil received an award for his service to The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades.
Even during his prolonged illness, Neil would not refuse a call to help someone in need. As one of his subordinates stated, “Our corner of the world is a better place because of his efforts.”
A viewing will be held on Wednesday, November 2 at the Yeadon Fire Company, Bailey Road near Church Lane, from 5 to 9 p.m. A tribute service will be held at 7 p.m.
The 11 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 3 Firefighter’s Funeral service is also being held at the Yeadon Fire Company, with the internment to follow at Eden Cemetery, Collingdale.
Following burial, a repast will be held at Yeadon Borough Hall Auditorium. Arrangements were provided by Edney Funeral Home, Sharon Hill.
Rudolph Valentino Looney Sr. was known as a man of integrity. He took great care of his family and was an excellent provider. Not only was he well respected and loved, he was always a hard worker.
For 25 years, he worked two full time jobs concurrently and he always did it with a smile on his face.
His employment history included a supervisory position with the United States Postal Service, ownership of a family grocery store for 25 years and a 41-year career as a teacher in the Philadelphia public school district. His many co-workers fondly called him “Big Daddy.” His personality, his dedication and his hearty laugh will always be remembered.
The devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather died October 21. He was 81.
Looney was born to Mack and Beatrice Looney on May 30, 1930, in Faraday, West Va. He was the fourth of six children.
He was educated in the Faraday, West Virginia public school district. Academic achievement and excellence were primary forces in his life. He graduated, at 16 years of age, from Excelsior High School, as an honor student.
His undergraduate studies were completed at Bluefield State College. Looney was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. He graduated magna cum laude. In addition to academic excellence, Looney was a star athlete.
He was the captain of his college football team. Unfortunately, an injury to his knee prevented him from being named to the ranks of Little All American. Later in 1950, he was named “Kappa of the Year” by the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
During his academic experience at Bluefield State College, he met the love of his life, Gwendolyn Marie Jackson. The two were married on February 12, 1951. Their union lasted 59 years, until her death on March 6, 2010. They were devoted to each other. Evidence of their love was demonstrated whenever and wherever you saw them. They had five children: Kevin Sr., Keith, Karen, Kim and Rudolph Jr. Family was always their focus. They raised their children in a loving environment. They nurtured their children. Family time was very important. Vacations included time spent at resorts and cruises and often included not just their children but their grandchildren, great-grandchildren, family and friends. Their home was open to many, and their hearts were open to all.
Looney leaves to mourn: five children, Kevin Sr. (Tonya), Keith (Dora), Karen (Ferris, Jr.), Kim and Rudolph Jr.; two siblings, Mack Jr. and Donald (Rose); sister-in-law, Billie Jean Marrs (Edwin); 10 grandchildren, Julian “JJ” Busbee Jr. (Tia), Tonya D. Looney, Ferris L. Davis III (Jeniece), Damen K. Looney Sr., Kevin Looney Jr. (Dionne), Kendrick A. Looney, Kalitta S. Looney, Clifford C. Bullock Sr.(Erin), Jasmine M. Looney, Rudolph V. Looney III; 21 great-grandchildren, a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, “adopted” children, family and friends.
Looney was preceded in death by siblings, Juanita Looney, John Watterson and Billy Jean Reed.
Services will be held October 28 at Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 5619–45 Walnut St. The service will start at 11 a.m. Bringhurst Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Mashelle Royster Odom was a devoted mother and grandmother. Her family said that she had an outgoing personality and gave of herself to everyone she met.
For the last several years, Odom was a real estate agent with Keller Williams Real Estate Agency in Winston-Salem, N.C. Before becoming a real estate agent, she was employed as an administrative assistant at North Carolina Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem. When she lived in Philadelphia, she was employed with the city for several years.
Odom died on January 14 of a massive stroke in Winston Salem. She was 57.
Odom was born on August 2, 1954, in Richmond, Va., to Stanley Royster and Mary Ann Gaines.
She graduated from the public schools in Philadelphia and attended Temple University. She lived in Philadelphia until 2000 when she made her move to Winston-Salem and became an active member of Unity Church of Winston-Salem.
Odom was affectionately known as “Queen” to her children and “Duchess” to her grandchildren in honor of her royal ways. Her family said she had an infectious laugh with an enormous sense of humor. She was a go-getter and was known for her assertive quest for financial security, and above all, was a devoted mother and grandmother who loved her daughters and grandchildren dearly.
Odom is survived by: daughters, Marian “Chrissy” Simpson (Malik Cherry) and Marlena Gordon (Raymond Latane); four grandchildren, Desiree Gordon, Vernon Propst, William Gordon and Xavier Simpson; three sisters, Shirl Ryan, Hilda Thompson and Stacey Royster; two aunts, Alma Hampton and Alice Miller; a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends; two goddaughters, Lynn and Samantha “Missy” Foulk; and two longtime, special friends, Barbara Evans and Veronica Daniel.
Odom was preceded in death by her parents.
Services were held earlier this month at Canaan Baptist Church.
Eugene George, 90, a native Philadelphian, was a long-time resident and homeowner in North Philadelphia. He died on Oct. 8 from respiratory ailments at Albert Einstein Medical Center.
George was born February 13, 1921 to the late Maxime Clement and Margaret (née Alexander) George. “Daddy Gene, as we called him was the second oldest, but his brother, Solington, died after a year of age. So, he was raised as the big brother of the subsequent three children. As a youngster, Daddy was taken to Grenada, West Indies, by his mother. After the birth of his brother, Andrew (Winston), the boys lived with their maternal grandparents who raised them,” said Patrick, his eldest son.
His daughter, Bernice McIntyre, also shared her memories.
“While in the ‘Island of Spice,’” Dad met a young girl named Muriel Daly,” she said. “They actually attended school together, developing a romance along the way. However, their lives parted as Dad and his brother ventured to Trinidad where they lived for a short time.
“Then, because Dad was a U.S. citizen, he was drafted into the U.S. Army during WWII and served in Puerto Rico,” Bernice McIntyre added. “He was honorably discharged in 1947 and settled in Philadelphia where he was reunited with his parents.”
George never forgot his first love, Muriel.
According to Eugenia, his daughter, “Dad sent for our mom in 1949, marrying within a year. There are four of us, each being spoiled in our own way. Our parents worked hard to keep us on the right track. We had a loving and secure upbringing, the West Indian way. Our Dad was devastated when he lost his wife in 1973, becoming a widower.”
Patrick continued with his recollections.
“Our Dad played cricket in Grenada and the United States. His team considered themselves to be good and so traveled wherever a challenger dared to take them on. He was also a member of the now defunct William Penn Masonic Lodge. He served as the Worshipful Grand Master and was honored for his work,” remembered Patrick.
The family beamed at the recounting of the story of their father’s and uncle’s reunion.
“After over 40 years, Dad and Uncle Winston saw each other again in 1989. Uncle Winston and Aunt Doril came to Philadelphia from London, England to visit with us. What a treat! That was definitely the high point in our dad’s life. Shortly after that visit, Uncle Winston passed away,” Bernice said.
“That was a huge blow to our father. However, we have been so enriched by the connection with our family in the UK. In Dad, the family has lost one of our historians, so someone else has to assume that role. Dad was family-focused and valued retaining and collecting family facts.”
George is survived by: children, Bernice McIntyre, Patrick, Eugene, Eugenia McFadden and Kenesta Mack; two sisters, Rose Cuffy and Gloria Walker; sons-in-law, James McIntyre and Tony McFadden; grandchildren, Justin McIntyre, Ishmawiyl, Shaquille and Cashad McFadden; devoted companion, Florence M. Mack; brothers-in-law, Arthur Cuffy and Richard Hamilton; sister-in-law, Anita Daly Hill; and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
Services will be held on October 15, at St. Martin de Porres Church at 2340 W. Lehigh Ave. The viewing will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The service will start at 11. Sabbath Funeral home handled the arrangements.
Ella Louise Wheeler was described by her family as a warm and outgoing person who truly live, and loved life. She loved to shop and dressed with style. Wheeler was also an avid traveler. She loved vacationing with her friends in Atlantic City, Miami, the Caribbean and anywhere the weather was warm and she could have some fun in the sun. Those who knew Wheeler appreciated her kindness, friendship and genuine ways. The former corrections officer died Sept. 12. She was 61.
Wheeler was born on May 14, 1950, in Dillon, S.C. to late Frank Covington and Ella Tart. She accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior and was a proud member of Triumph Baptist Church under the leadership of the Rev. James Hall Jr.
Wheeler, affectionately called Louise by family and many friends, was educated in the Latimer Public School System, in Latta, S.C. and received her high school diploma from Latimer High School in 1969.
Wheeler moved to Philadelphia shortly after completing high school. She was very assertive and took pride in the work she performed. She was employed by the City of Philadelphia Department of Recreation, and then the School District of Philadelphia. In 1988, Wheeler began her career as a correctional officer with the Philadelphia Prison System and retired in November 2010. She formed life-long friendships with many colleagues and was affectionately known by many nicknames.
Wheeler leaves to mourn: brother, Levern Covington; sister, Josephine Williams; brother-in-law, Greg Williams; two sisters-in-law, Ernestine Covington and Shirley Covington; a very dear and loyal friend, Iris Bush; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, relatives and special friends.
Services will be held September 20 at Triumph Baptist Church, 1648 W. Hunting Park. The viewing will be at 10 a.m. The service will start at 11 a.m. Slater Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Agape International Baptist Church is a covenant for those in the community and above else to serve as an example of God’s unconditional love. The Greek word agape (ah-GAH-pay) is often translated into a form of love embodying self-sacrifice, forgiveness and divine love as opposed to the romantic or even familial love we usually think of.
With this word in mind, the Rev. John C. GBlah formed Agape on July 9, 2006 with a group of 10 adults. They met in the basement of his home with the goal of organizing a church for the proclamation of the Gospel and to provide an environment that not only made a difference but very welcoming.
“When I came from Liberia, I was a member of Bible Way Baptist Church. It’s an African-American church, and I served in that church as assistant pastor for almost 15 years. So, each time an immigrant comes form Liberia or other parts of Africa, when I take them to the church, they don’t stay there,” Gblah said.
“Then the Lord led me to open the church where they can feel at home; where they can beat their drums and dance and do all the other things and language wise too. After thinking about it a long time, I was convinced that the Lord was calling me to get into this work. I’ve been in ministry since 1970. I was ordained in 1970.”
Agape's International is not only for Africans but for everyone. Gblah said that at the heart of Agape’s ministry is their outreach into the community. The church currently hosts quarterly men’s breakfast and prayer walks, women’s trainings and youth outings. He wanted the church to expand even more to help fulfill their great commission.
“The vision for the church is that we will one day have a place of worship for ourselves where we have multiple rooms, classrooms for educational purposes and literacy classes for our older folks who cannot read or write,” he said.
“Christ came not to be served but to serve, and that’s a challenge. We have to serve mankind and if we can do that then we will have made a contribution to the society because if we help people then we will be able to help others.”
Jackie Wlea is a youth leader at Agape and concurred about the church’s desire to be a help to its neighborhood and beyond.
“It’s a church that’s all about the community, always involved in people’s lives, always reaching out to people. So, my experience there has been beautiful,” Wlea said.
Wlea said the church wanted to exemplify the meaning of its name at every opportunity.
“The church has mindset that if I’m hungry, I cannot preach God to you unless I can address that hunger,” he said.
“So, let me show you the love I have for God towards you, and then you’ll hopefully be able to want to know more about that kind of love.”
Wlea also praised Gblah’s leadership as helping to keep Agape focused through leading by example.
“Not only is he a good spiritual leader, but he’s such a people person, always reaching out to people,” he said.
“He’s a very humble individual. The youth can relate to him. The older ones can relate to him. So, basically, he gets along with everybody.”
Amos T. Suah, who is an assistant to the pastor, also echoed the sentiments.
“He’s a God-fearing man. He’s committed to the work of God,” Suah said.
Suah felt that Gblah’s dedication has strengthened Agape’s resolve to be a resource in addressing community concerns and the needs of its residents.
“It’s a good church that caters to the need of the community and doing what the Lord and savior has asked us to do, to minister to our people in the community and win souls for Christ,” he said.
Agape’s efforts have led to a gradual growth of its members. The church is looking to move to bigger facilities and has started a building fund. The donations have also provided food baskets for families. Gblah said it is crucial for the Bible to be connected to the issues of the day.
“Come to our church because we preach, and we live what we preach. We don’t say, do what I say do, but don’t do what I do,” he said.
“There are any of us as ministers where we preach one thing but live another thing, but at Agape, we want to be an example.”
Gblah stressed that living up to Agape’s name was to continually live out their name.
“We say we love, but we try to put love into action,” he said.
“We not only love you but we will show you that we love you. So, our church is putting love into action, the agape unconditional love.”
Agape International Baptist Church
8648 Elmwood Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19142
Service: 11 a.m.
Rev. John C. Gblah
Preston Killebrew Jr. was a strong family-valued man who believed that his responsibility was to provide for his family no matter how hard or long he had to work. He died Oct. 17. He was 77.
Killebrew was born on May 30, 1934, in Philadelphia to Daisy Settles and Preston Killebrew Sr. and was the third of four children. He graduated from Overbrook High School in 1953. He continued his education by enrolling in business administration studies at Temple University.
Believing he needed to become knowledgeable in the word of God, he attended Manna Bible Institute in Philadelphia. He graduated with honors in 1986.
At the age of six years old, he accepted Christ as his personal savior and subsequently was baptized. At that time, he joined the fellowship of the Vine Street Baptist Church and served on the Sunday school, ushers and choir ministries.
While growing up, he continued working diligently as a member of Vine Street Baptist Church, which later became Vine Memorial Baptist Church in 1979. He was appointed the Director of Evangelism in 1980 when the church elected him to the ministry of deacons under the chairmanship of his late father, Preston Killebrew Sr.
One year later in 1981, following in the steps of his father, he was elected as the chairman of the ministry of deacons.
While still in high school, he met Yvonne Bailey, whom he would later marry on September 25, 1954. They had two children, Daryl and Karen.
An entrepreneur at heart, Preston had a great desire to own and operate a business. He was blessed to have several successful businesses on a part-time basis, such as a janitorial service and a technical employment placement service.
He was employed for 35 years at American Electronic Laboratories, Inc. (AEL) as a technical writer and marketing representative.
In 1995, he retired from AEL Industries, Inc. Determined not to sit around long, he opened Preston’s Auto Detail Salon. Under this business venture, he successfully opened locations within several parking garages around Center City Philadelphia.
Killebrew connected any success he had in life to his personal relationship with God. He experienced great joy in working in the church and had a great love for teaching the word of the Lord.
He was considered a man of Godly wisdom often giving sound advice along with practical biblical and spiritual direction to those who asked. Killebrew’s family said he had a super supreme love for God, his family, pastor and church family. To many he was affectionately known as “Sonny.”
His dry humor kept many laughing, and because of his quiet character and refined temperance he was sometimes lovingly referred to as “Cool Pres” — he never lost his “cool.”
Killebrew is survived by: two children, Daryl Preston Killebrew and Karen Killebrew Wilkins; daughter-in-law, Macrina Killebrew; son-in-law, Ronald Wilkins; sister, Louise Gallman; 10 grandchildren, which includes two spouses, three great-grandchildren, five sisters-in-law, one brother-in-law and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and a host of friends and colleagues whom he regarded as family.
He was preceded in death by siblings Dolores Key and Leonard Killebrew.
Services will be held Oct. 22 at Vine Memorial Baptist Church, 5600 West Girard Ave. The viewing will be at 9 a.m. the service will start at 11. Wood Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Yvonne Brenda Hale’s passion for art was so intense that she became an artist in the “found art” movement. In the absence of art supplies, she would create “canvases” out of cardboard boxes and paper bags and enclose them in frames purchased at a dollar store. While her work was generally not for public consumption, at the end, her family said her legacy would be one of being a poster child for extolling art therapy.
She died on Oct. 29 of cardiac arrest. She was 65. A memorial service will be held Friday, Dec. 23 at Reformation Lutheran Church, 1215 E. Vernon Road. It will start at 11 a.m. Beckett-Brown and Hodges Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Hale was born on Dec. 23, 1945 in Harlem, N.Y. to Sara Ames Hale and Northen Hale. Her formative years were spent in Philadelphia with her mother, brothers Kenneth and Curtis Owens and extended family.
She attended Kensington High School in Philadelphia until her sophomore year, when she relocated to Fayetteville, N.C., to join her brother, Curtis, who was serving in the Army Medical Administrative Service Corps at Fort Bragg. She enrolled at the E.E. Smith High School in Fayetteville and graduated in1964.
Following graduation, Hale returned to Philadelphia and obtained employment with Bell Telephone Co. of Pennsylvania. She was among the early recruits of African-American women at Bell who showed promise for fast-track career development. This promising development, however, was interrupted rather abruptly when following a number of personal setbacks, she began manifesting an inability to adjust, which was subsequently diagnosed as schizophrenia.
Her penchant for high fashion, arts and a creative social style were traits that became the hallmark of her personality. Always fighting to find a voice to offset the marginalization that besets those with her problem, her family said she found that voice in her artwork. To this end, she audited classes at most Philadelphia and some New York art schools and was afforded special status as a visiting artist. She studied and paid tribute to many of the masters by personalizing, but never plagiarizing, their styles. She was always careful to give credit to the source of her inspiration.
Her talents also included singing and dancing to the tempos of music of Sammy Davis Jr. and Teddy Pendergrass. She derived much of her spiritual vibrations, however, from the teachings and examples of Dr .Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus Christ.
Hale is survived by: brothers, Curtis Owens Jr. and Kenneth Owens; nephews, Derek and Kenneth Michael Owens; grand-nephew, Tyler Owens; sister-in-law, Edna V. Anderson-Owens and numerous other family members and friends.
Contributions in her memory can be made to Greater Philadelphia Health Action, 432 N. Sixth St. Philadelphia PA 19123.