Donald Vaughn Sr. had a distinguished career as an officer and deputy secretary in the corrections field before retiring. He received numerous commendations. Most notable of these are the many he received for his remarkable participation as the primary hostage negotiator during a five-day hostage siege at SCI Graterford, where seven staff and several inmates were taken hostage as the result of a botched escape attempt by a number of inmates.
Vaughn died October 23. He was 67.
“He was a great public speaker. He loved to speak,” said his son, Donald Vaughn Jr.
Vaughn was born June 9, 1944. He received his education in the Philadelphia School District. He attended Villanova University and Penn State University. He also had many professional certificates of achievement.
Vaughn began his career in corrections in January of 1967 at the old Eastern State Penitentiary as a corrections officer. Eastern State Penitentiary, which was the model prison for systems throughout the United States, closed its gates in 1969 whereupon Vaughn transferred to the maximum security State Correctional Institution at Graterford.
“He knew the job inside and out. He worked every aspect of it,” Vaughn Jr. said.
After his transfer, and while still a corrections officer, Vaughn was appointed by former Commissioner of Corrections Sieloff to serve on a commission whose task it was to establish a community service center in Philadelphia. There are currently five “CSCs” in the Philadelphia area, along with 14 contract centers which are a direct result of the initiative. In 1972, Vaughn was promoted to the rank of sergeant. In 1975, he was promoted to lieutenant.
In 1976, in direct response to a request by the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners, Lieutenant Vaughn was appointed acting Deputy Warden of the Lehigh County Jail by former Commissioner of Corrections Robinson, where he served until July of 1977.
Upon completion of this assignment and his return to SCI Graterford, he was promoted to the rank of Major of the Guard.
Six years later, Vaughn was appointed Deputy Superintendent for Operations. He served in that capacity until September of 1989 when he was appointed Acting Superintendent. In December of 1989, his appointment was made final and he became superintendent of the largest maximum security prison in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Vaughn held this position until his appointment in 2003 to Deputy Secretary of Corrections for the Eastern Region of the Commonwealth.
Vaughn was a member of the American Correctional Association, American Probation and Parole Association, Pennsylvania Prison Wardens Association and Pennsylvania Association on Probation, Parole and Corrections.
Vaughn was also affiliated with several other organizations within his local community. Vaughn served on the “Three Strikes You’re Out” committee where he worked closely with Vice President of the United States Al Gore and U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno. He was also past president of the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice.
Vaughn was the recipient of many awards from various organizations. In 1994, he received the President’s Award from the Pennsylvania Prison Wardens Association.
Vaughn was a member of the Penn Memorial Baptist Church and Christian Stronghold Baptist Church where he served as an usher.
Vaughn is survived by: wife, Florine; and children, Kwanda, Damika and Donald Jr.
Services will be held October 28 at Christian Stronghold Baptist Church, 4701 Lancaster Ave. The viewing will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The service will start at 11. Wood Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Mattie Mae Richardson, affectionately known as “Sister,” enjoyed many things including dancing, listening to her favorite music, which was blues and gospel, partying with her friends, having fun with her children and grandchildren or just relaxing in her room watching her old TV shows and old movies. She died on Jan. 22. She was 65.
Richardson was born on Nov. 30, 1946 to Jerlean and Isaac “Buddy” Smith in Sardis, Ga. She accepted Jesus Christ at an early age and was baptized at John Beach Baptist Church in Savannah.
In 1956, her parents moved to Philadelphia. She was educated in the Philadelphia public schools and graduated from Simon Gratz High School in 1965. After graduating, she became a court stenographer in the Philadelphia courts.
In 1965, she married William J. Richardson. They had three sons, Rodney, Stacey and Andre. In 1971, she moved to the 2500 block of Marston where she remained until her death.
Her family said she believed Marston Street was family-oriented and loved her family and their children. She would babysit, pick kids up from school and put them in their place when they needed “old-school” style.
In 1989, she participated in the OIC program founded by the late Rev. Leon H. Sullivan. In six months, she completed the program, graduated and earned a certificate in clerical studies.
Richardson is survived by her sons, Rodney (Mary), Stacey and Andre Sr. (Regina); sister, Barbara Holden; uncle, James Cooper; two aunts, Bessie Williams and Joanne Griffin; 12 grandchildren, Demetrius, Charniece, Maurice, Raniece, Cornelius, Shelique, Stacey Jr., Madelina, Ambria, Andre Jr., Adonai and Ache; a great-grandchild, Dyzaire; two nieces, Sharon and NaTasha; and a host of cousins and friends.
Services were held Jan. 31 at Powell Mortuary Services.
Karen Janenia Rogers Smith was a devout woman of God. She accepted the Lord at a young age and had been a member of Mt. Sinai Baptist Church for over 57 years. She died on Jan. 20. She was 63.
Smith was a faithful member of the Angelic Chorus for over 45 years and her tambourine was always at her side. Through the years, she taught vacation Bible school and Bible study and was a member of the Praise and Worship team. She also loved to decorate and work in the garden.
Smith was born on March 3, 1948 in Fernwood to William Rogers and Sally Lites Rogers. She was the eldest of four children. She was educated in the Upper Darby School District. She obtained a dual degree from Pennsylvania Institute of Technology, majoring in medical and office technology. She was also a graduate of the Gospel Crusades Bible School.
She was married to Garrett H. Smith. They had six children. She was primarily a homemaker and loving mother to her son, Garrett Jr. who was born with special needs. Smith was very active with Garrett Jr., who faithfully participated in the Special Olympics.
Smith is survived by mother, Sally Lites Rogers; sister, Artensie Phillips; brother, Leroy Rogers; daughters Crystal Smith, Sally Brown and Tiffany Robbins; sons Garrett Smith Jr., James Smith and John Smith; sons-in-law Darrell Brown and Vincent Robbins; grandchildren Kierre, Karon, John Jr., Da’Shay, Cristine, Daniell and Melanie; great-grandchildren Elizabeth Rogers, Regina Rogers, Merlin Smith and Lony Smith; brother-in-law Bernard Smith; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Smith was preceded in death by her husband and her father.
Services were held Jan. 28 at Mt. Sinai Baptist Church. Francis Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
James Rouse Sr. was a resident and homeowner in North Philadelphia. The U.S. Army veteran died on Jan. 23 of complications of kidney disease. He was 68.
“I am so glad we could all be there for my husband,” said wife, Mary Rouse. “He was alert and able to communicate until about a week before his death. We watched him suffer and were relieved when he was at peace. The peace of God was evident on his face. I was able to be by his side to the end.”
Rouse was born on Oct. 20, 1943, in Philadelphia to Laura Rouse and James Daniel Melvin. He was one of eight children and was educated in the Philadelphia school district. He graduated from Southern High School in 1963. He served in the U.S. Army as a military police officer in the 1960s.
“I always wondered why my dad did not join the police force after his discharge. However, he seemed to be perfectly satisfied that he did his fair share in the military,” said son, James Jr.
On Jan. 16, 1965, he married the love of his life, Mary Virginia James.
“We were truly blessed to have our dad,” said daughter Yvette. “We knew that he loved our mother deeply. That gave us great comfort and security. Then, he made us know how important we were to him.”
After his honorable discharge in 1966, Rouse was self-employed as a fruit truck operator. He also worked simultaneously as a press operator at Jentzen Printing Press for ten years. In 1973, he was employed by Unisys Corporation as a domestic engineer. After 27 years of dedicated service, he retired in 2000 with the final title of domestic engineer supervisor. His most passionate job was as a “hack man” for the community, a service he provided for over 20 years.
“James accepted the Lord as his personal Savior many years ago. He would often have our family attend services at the Enon Baptist Church. I was very active and he supported my efforts,” said his wife. “He continued to attend Enon Baptist Church under the leadership of the Rev. S.D. Neely Sr. As he faced challenges to his health, he still attended when he was able.”
An active community member, Rouse was a member of the Masons and was known and loved throughout the community.
“Although he fathered only two children, he was everybody’s dad. He was co-founder of Our Gang and Teen, Incorporated, which served as a haven for many young people,” James Jr. said.
His daughter, Yvette, continued.
“He would gather us up and have us climb into the back of his pick-up truck,” she said. “We had a tarp-like cover that we held over us. The kids in the middle had it good. Those on the corners had to keep the cover tight. And, oh, when it rained we really got it, but we always had fun.
“Nobody refused to ride whenever Dad put out the call,” Yvette said. “Dad and Mom loved to entertain, so we had BBQs at will and hosted an annual block party with plenty of food and fun.”
Rouse is survived by wife, Mary Rouse; children, James Rouse Jr. and Yvette Vennetta Rouse; grandson, Devin Jamaar Rouse; granddaughter, Stephanie Rouse; great granddaughter, Egypt Sinai Yvette Presley; siblings, Robert Rouse (Brenda), David Rouse and Dorothy Rouse; a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law; two special caregivers, Darryl McKinney and his niece, Terie Griffin, as well as many friends.
Rouse was preceded in death by siblings, Delores Clark, Jesse Rouse, Myron Rouse and Sarah Griffin.
Services were held on Jan. 28, at Enon Baptist Church, 1831 Green St. Sabbath Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Samuel J. Watts Jr. proudly served in the United States Army during World War II and was a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity for over 60 years. He spent many hours in support of his wife, Edna, and being involved in activities with Jack and Jill of America, Inc. He was a member of P.O.N’s and the Old Philadelphia Club.
He had an illustrious career with the Philadelphia Public School District He served as a teacher and subsequently served 33 years as a principal. He also served one year as Headmaster of Miquon School in Montgomery County, Pa. He served the State of Pennsylvania as the Governor’s delegate at the White House conference on Children and Youth in Washington, D.C.
Watts died Nov. 7 in Pensacola, Florida. A memorial service was held for him December 10, at Salem Baptist Church. He was 92.
“I want him to be remembered for his education, experience and his care for the children in the school system,” said Gregory Watts, his son.
Watts was born on Feb. 20, 1919, to Samuel and Marion (Ross) Watts. He was the eldest of four children. He was married to the late Geraldine Emerson and had one child, Gregory E. Watts. He later married Edna Dennis West. In addition to the blending of her daughter, Stephne, and his son Gregory, they had two daughters from their union, Trina and Tracey. His immediate family was complete. He and Edna were married for 50 years.
Watts was educated in the Philadelphia Public School District, graduating from Central High School. He was a graduate of Cheyney University and received his master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania, with post-graduate work at the University of Massachusetts.
One of his greatest endeavors which brought him great happiness was working at Camp Mohawk, a 268-acre property in the Catskill Mountains of New York where he was co-owner and director from 1960 to 1968. The camp provided many life changing experiences for its campers from around the United States as well as for its multi-cultural staff.
Watts enjoyed fishing, cooking and painting. He loved the beach. He always talked about family times in Atlantic City and Cape May. He spent many hours just talking and thinking. He always wanted to know what you thought. He was a philosopher, a diplomat, someone who could always see the other side of the coin and would investigate all avenues to get there.
Watts raised his family at Christ Church of St Michael. He later in life joined, and was baptized at, Salem Baptist Church of Jenkintown, under the late Robert Johnson-Smith Sr.
Watts is survived by: four children, Dr. Stephne West, Gregory Watts, Trina Reddish and Tracey Penullar; daughter-in-law, Eleanor Watts; two sons-in-law, Barry Reddish and Roberto Penullar; four grandsons, Brandon Watts, Stanley Lawson, Richard Lawson and Roberto Penullar Jr.; sister-in-law, Johnnie Ruth Watts, a host of nieces, nephews; and an extended family, all of whom loved and admired him.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Geraldine Emerson, second wife, Edna, and siblings George, Jennie and John.
Charles Cecil Hightower Sr. was a warehouseman for local companies. He was also a coach who liked to impart his knowledge of sports to the young and a talented, prize-winning artist. Hightower died on Dec. 24. He was 69.
In his youth, he could jump phenomenally high — a talent that let him hold his own on the local basketball courts with the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and other Philly stars.
In fact, while at West Philadelphia High School, Cecil set a school record in the high jump in 1960, clearing the bar at 6 feet 4 inches.
Hightower was born in Philadelphia to Lovie Lee Beatrice Thomas and Charles Claude Hightower. He excelled in track and field at West Philadelphia High School and played junior varsity basketball before dropping out. He later received his diploma from the Standard Evening School.
At the old Haddington Playground, now Shepard Recreation Center, in West Philly, he got to test his skills and his jump shot against Chamberlain, Sonny Hill, Walt Hazzard, Earl “the Pearl” Monroe, Wali Jones and other players.
He was employed by the Wynne Bolt and Screw Co. as a warehouseman and driver for more than 20 years. He was a member of Teamsters Local 115. He later worked as an inventory clerk for the Logistics Co.
Hightower was also an active member of Simpson Fletcher United Methodist Church. He was vice president of the young adult choir.
“He was a joyful, loving person, and was a man of his own who had to be himself whether you liked it or not,” his family said.
Hightower is survived by: daughter, Donna Lynn; two sons, Charles Cecil Hightower Jr. and Dereck Claude Backus; sister, Barbara Clark; and two grandchildren.
He was predeceased in death by his wife, Judith and brother, Ernest Hightower.
Services were held on Jan. 7.
—The Philadelphia Daily News contributed to this report.
Lottie B. Harvey was a wonderful wife and mother, devoted to raising her children and helping her husband with his business endeavors. She worked in the home as her husband’s bookkeeper. She died Nov. 12. She was 84.
Harvey was born on Feb. 1, 1927, in Forest, Miss. She completed her high school education, and then went on to earn a degree in cosmetology. She left Mississippi to come to Philadelphia to live with her cousin. She met and married William Harvey and the union produced five children, four sons and one daughter. They were married for 62 years.
Harvey’s loved ones described her as the sweetest woman, who was quiet, considerate, and attentive to her family. Never one to intrude, she gave support whenever needed. Friends and family loved, adored and respected her. As a child growing up in Mississippi, she was a member of the Methodist Church. In Philadelphia, she joined Foster Memorial Baptist Church and became a deaconess, and later, she joined Thankful Baptist Church.
Harvey is survived by: husband, William Harvey Sr.; five children, Barbara Andrews, Ralph Harvey, William Harvey, Jr., Wanzer Harvey, Derrick Harvey; siblings, Anne Deale, Betty Hughes, Thelma Hughes, Clara Williams and James Bobbitt; sister-in-love, Bonnie Smith, and a host of son and daughters in law, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Services were held Nov. 18. Ray Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Rodger L. Johnson joined the Army after high school graduation. He served for two years, receiving an honorable discharge. He was a very dedicated family man; a loving husband, proud father and doting grandfather. But he also strongly believed in forging lasting bonds among his entire family through various types of gatherings. He organized family reunions, most recently working diligently to pull the family together in 2009.
Johnson died Nov. 28. He was 80.
Johnson was born on May 21, 1931 to Roberta and Walter Johnson in Port Deposit, Md. While attending elementary school, he and four of his friends started a small music group in which, Johnson sang and played the tonette, which is similar to the flute. Later the family moved to Philadelphia where he attended Vaux Junior High School and Benjamin Franklin High School.
On Jan. 23, 1954, he married Alice Hatcher, who was a close friend of his sister, Catherine. They were married 57 years. They had one daughter, Michele, and one granddaughter, Aliyah.
In 1957, he began working for the United States Postal Service where he was employed for 31 years, retiring in 1988. In addition to his job, he would often take handyman jobs. He installed aluminum siding on neighbors’ houses alongside his brothers-in-law and several of his nephews, in whom he instilled an excellent work ethic.
Johnson was an avid bowler, once belonging to a bowling league. He also loved to get away. Many Sundays were spent in Atlantic City with his family and that of his best friend, Edward Hubbard, whom he affectionately called “Brother.” In the ’70s, there were several vacations spent at Kings Lodge with family and friends. He also took his family to Jamaica, and later he and Alice enjoyed many cruise vacations. Johnson and his wife also took great pleasure in inviting family and friends to their timeshare in Orlando.
In 1984, Johnson became a trustee at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church. He served on the trustee board for 25 years, in various positions including First Vice Chairperson. More than just serving as trustee, he would often cook for them and was very instrumental in coordinating the trustees’ annual Christmas dinner and the summer barbecues. He became Trustee Emeritus on June 28, 2009.
In the early 1980s, Johnson joined Amway, which became a life altering experience. Johnson, who had always been known as a strong but very quiet man, suddenly became quite talkative, enthusiastically and passionately extolling the virtues of the Amway product line and recruiting others to the business as well. He remained an active advocate for Amway until his illness in 2009.
Each year, he and his wife, Alice, hosted a large and much anticipated Thanksgiving dinner to which all family were welcome. He was also a key organizer of the annual crab feast at the New Jersey home of his sister, LaDoris. He delegated tasks and drew “floor plans” to ensure the food could be properly displayed. He would prepare his famous cole slaw and his specially formulated fruit punch. Johnson also served on the board of the family cemetery, Berkley Cemetery. He was one of the organizers of the annual meeting held in support of the Cemetery, for which he cooked and zealously encouraged family participation. He was passionate about keeping it going and maintained. Johnson was not only a family man; he was always willing to lend a helping hand — to give a ride, fix a roof, paint a room or simply visit a sick friend or relative.
Johnson is survived by: wife, Alice; daughter, Michele Johnson; granddaughter, Aliyah Johnson; goddaughter, Pamela Lovell, brother, James Johnson; sister, LaDoris Carter; brothers-in-law, Rex Bridget, Clarence (Geno) Hatcher and Charles (Duke) Hatcher along with a host of nieces, nephews and other family and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents and two sisters, Catherine E. Bridget and Janet L. Chupp.
Services will be held Dec. 6 at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, 5732 Race Street. The viewing will be at 9 a.m. The service will start at 11 a.m. Wood Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Katherine M. Hardeman was well known as a fabulous cook and hostess. As a long time resident of 1300 block of Christian Street in South Philadelphia, she hosted an “Open House” on New Years Day for many years. Hardeman died on Oct. 14. She was 89.
Hardeman was born on Jan. 15, 1922, in Eldridge, Md., to the late John and Iola Myers. Her family said that people from all walks of life and from all over the city would gather at her house for something to eat, drink or just to get warm.
“She was a very classy lady. She loved to dress,” Jamie Clark, her niece said. “Of course she was a loving and great aunt.”
Hardeman leaves to mourn: brother, John Myers (Bernice); several nieces, nephews and a host of other family and friends.
She was preceded in death by her husband, James Hardeman.
Private services were already held. Wood Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Mary Helen Harris worked as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in the Philadelphia Geriatric Center. After retirement in 1977, she remained a part-time private duty nurse. She died on December 11. She was 73.
Harris was born to the late Ardine Palmer Harrison and John Palmer on September 20, 1938, in Hobgood, N.C. She married Wesley Russell Harris in 1961. She accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior at an early age, and remained strong and constant in her faith and dedication to Christ.
Harris is survived by: daughter, Zenobia Regina Harris; son, Levon Harris; sister, Annie Belle Clark; step-daughter, Laverne Harris; god-daughter, Jackie Martin; special grandson, Issiah Harris; special brother-in-law, Thomas Harris; aunt, Susie Rumble; nine grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
Harris was preceded in death by her parents; husband; step-father, Perry Harrison; two sisters; and a brother.
Services were held December 16 at Mt. Airy Baptist Church. Ray Funeral Home handled the arrangements.