Flora Dorsey Young, Ph.D., a retired Rowan University sociology professor and longtime resident of Lawnside, N.J., died of cancer on Feb. 9. She was 83.
Young was born on July 3, 1928, and grew up to be a prominent member of the Black middle class in Lawnside, the first independent self-governing African-American community north of the Mason-Dixon line. Her late husband, Dr. William P. Young Sr., was a well-known family physician in the borough.
She was an advocate for social justice and worked tirelessly to advance civil rights. She mentored countless students in the close-knit Lawnside borough of nearly 3,000 residents and sought to instill cultural pride and heritage in the youth.
Young was among the first Black faculty members hired in 1968 at then- Glassboro State College. She helped establish the Sociology Department and during her career spanning 27 years she influenced and taught more than 4,500 students. She retired in 1996.
She received numerous awards and secured funding for research grants to aid in getting projects completed and her works published.
She pushed to increase the number of Black undergraduates pursuing doctorates and successfully lobbied for “Hollybush,” a unique program at Rowan that prepared students for the rigorous coursework required to seek advanced degrees.
“She was a trailblazer,” said Julie Mallory Church, assistant director for Counseling and Psychological Services at Rowan in a recent tribute. “Her light shone very brightly, touching generations of students.”
A champion for education at every level, Young challenged her students with her no-nonsense “no excuse will do, tough love” teaching approach. Former students who became lawyers, social workers, teachers and other professionals credit her for setting the stage for their success.
Only days before her death, she assisted her young grandson, William III, with a school project on the Freedom Riders of the 1960s.
“She was an educator to the end,” said her daughter Dr. Marie Young-Robinson, an anesthesiologist in Philadelphia. “She was a strong family woman and an asset to all who knew her.”
Born in Philadelphia, Young was educated in the public school district and graduated from The Philadelphia High School for Girls in 1946. She inherited her spirited nature and quest for learning from her parents, the late Mary Gaskins Dorsey and Dr. Charles W. Dorsey, a well-known dentist, charter member of the National Dental Association and president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the NAACP.
She often quoted the words of her father, which inspired her to excel: “Do the best you can, always — no one can do more, but never stop trying. There is no sin so great as despair, and perhaps no virtue so vital as courage.”
While earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology at Howard University in Washington, D.C., she met her future husband, a young student at Howard Medical School. The couple married in 1950 and settled in Lawnside a few years later.
Young later obtained a Master’s Degree in Sociology from Howard and a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania.
She studied with and under some of the most significant scholars in Black academia including E. Franklin Frazier, considered one of the most prominent African-American sociologists of the 20th century.
Young and her husband brought the renowned historian, the late John Hope Franklin, who chronicled the struggles of Black Americans and others to Lawnside to speak to a youth group that the couple formed to expose children in the community to their culture and heritage.
In a 2006 interview with the Lawnside Historical Society, Young noted: “We felt that our young people did not have a clue as to how proud they could be of the various ones that had gone before them. Of course, I still feel that way. I am quite annoyed with the lack of our young people really getting excited about knowing about their forefathers.”
Young and her husband were instrumental in encouraging and assisting youngsters to attend college, particularly historically Black colleges and universities. The couple tutored students, financed transportation and in some cases paid their tuition.
Young was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., The Links Inc., the Auxiliary to the South Jersey Medical Society and the National Congress of Black Faculty. She attended the Chapel of the Annunciation in Lawnside.
Young is survived by: daughter, Dr. Marie Young-Robinson; son, Dr. William P. Young Jr.; grandchildren, William III and Marc Robinson; daughter-in-law, Kim Young and son-in-law, Martin Robinson.
A memorial service and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Omega Omega service were held on February 15 at Rowan University in the Student Center Owl’s Nest. Carl Miller Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Donations in her name may be sent to: Howard University College of Arts and Sciences, Division of Alumni Relations, 2225 Georgia Ave., NW, Room 901, Washington, D.C. 20059. Attention: N. Bernard.
Steven L. Bennett Jr., affectionately called “Steve,” loved spending time with his family, especially his children, and traveling. Bennett died Feb. 8. He was 51.
Bennett was born to Steven L. Bennett Sr. and Mary L. Griffin-Bennett on May 30, 1960, in Philadelphia.
He was educated in the Philadelphia Public School System and graduated from Martin Luther King High School.
His family said he had many hobbies and enjoyed using the computer, taking pictures, having cookouts and playing with the latest gadgets.
Bennett always had his uniform pressed and shoes shined. While not in uniform he loved to dress and always had on a new pair of the latest sneakers. He was always smiling and willing to help anyone in need. Bennett was also a no-nonsense man.
He joined the Pennsylvania National Guard in 1979 and served until 1987 where he was honorably discharged. Bennett joined the Philadelphia Police Department in 1989.
While with the Police Department he served in various units including, the Highway Patrol, traffic division and the narcotics division. He received several commendations and awards for merit and bravery including the Fraternal Order of Police Academy Award for Platoon Leadership before retiring in 2010. After retiring from the police department he was employed by Bryn Mawr College, with the public safety department.
Bennett leaves to mourn: companion, Valerie V. Curry; daughter, Aneea M. Bennett; sons, Steven L. Bennett III and Darien S. Bennett; father, Steven L. Bennett Sr.; brothers, Kevin L. Bennett and Darrin M. Boswell; sisters, Dawn L. Bennett and Kimberly L. Bennett; grandmother, Hazel Griffin; aunt, Marie E. Camp; cousin, Dr. Dana-Marie Thomas; and his extended family, Anna Farr and Vance McKelvy as well as a host of nieces, nephews, other family members and friends.
Bennett was preceded in death by his mother.
Services were held Feb. 16 at Bethel Deliverance International Church. Wood Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Catherine Clark was a faithful member of New Bethlehem Baptist Church. She was involved in various ministries such as the Deaconess Ministry, Bereavement Committee, the Feeding Program, Missionary Society, the Scotts Inspirational Chorus, Sunday school and the Revival Choir.
Clark was dedicated to her church family and enjoyed ministering to the sick and shut-in. Her family said she lived according to the Biblical scripture of Paul, in 2 Timothy. Clark died on February 10. She was 79.
Clark was born on October 7, 1932, to Lucius and Anna Smith in Homerville, Georgia. She was the third of eight children.
At an early age, Catherine’s family moved to Danville, Virginia. She accepted Christ at the Loyal Baptist Church when she was 13 years old. She received her education in the public school district and graduated from Langston Mercer High School. While in high school, she met the love of her life, Percy E. Clark.
In 1952, her family moved to Philadelphia. Shortly thereafter, Percy followed her to Philadelphia. After a short courtship they were married in 1953. They had three daughters, Marilyn, Carol and Pamela.
She joined New Bethlehem Baptist Church in 1958 under the pastorate of the late Rev. James F. Scott.
Clark worked as a cashier until retirement. She had a long healthy life until she became ill in 2009. During her illness her faith in Jesus Christ became even stronger. Daughters Carol Briggs and Pamela Johnson, and son-in-law William took very good care of her.
Clark leaves to mourn: daughters, Carol Briggs (William) and Pamela Johnson (Jesse); grandchildren, Phillip Wilson (Joenetta), Kimberly Wilson, Tara Johnson, Tahir Briggs, Tarik Briggs and Catherine Johnson; great-grandchildren, Khalen and Khristian; godchild, Angelina Hopkins; siblings, Pauline Inge, Lillie Terry, Herbert Smith, Lurene Lenear (Robert), Annie Mackey, (John Sr.) and Clarence Smith; brother-in-law, Floyd Clark; three sisters-in law, Betty Clark, Meta Clark and Kitty Clark; two lifelong friends, Lois Petty and Cora Cooke; and a host of nieces, nephews, other family and friends.
Clark was preceded in death by her husband Percy Clark, her daughter Marilyn Wilson and her brother Lucius Smith.
Services will be held Saturday, Feb. 18 at New Bethlehem Baptist Church, Preston and Aspen. The viewing will be at 9 a.m. The service will be at 10 a.m. James L. Morse Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Gladys Flamer was a local centenarian and community leader. She was known to be the oldest citizen living in the City of Coatesville. When she was 103, she was still driving. Everyone knew her red and white 1979 Cadillac Coupe Deville. At 105, she was mentally sharp, could still stand and walk on her own. She died on Feb. 8. She was 105.
Flamer was active in city government, addressing Coatesville City Council with issues that concerned her. She was the Judge of Elections for Coatesville’s Fifth Ward for decades and recipient the Rebecca Lukens Award in 2010.
She had been treasurer of the Coatesville chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star for over 40 years. The Coatesville Area Branch of the NAACP gave her its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Over the years, Flamer had worked as an LPN at the VA Medical Center and the former Embreeville Hospital. She owned a beauty shop in Coatesville for 20 years. She also worked for Lukens Steel, the Pennsylvania Railroad and even Strawbridge and Clothier at age 90.
She was also an active member of her church and a member of the Coatesville Historical Commission.
Services were held on February 15 at Hutchinson Memorial UAME Church. Wright Funeral & Cremation Services handled the arrangements.
Gloria Mozil Simmons, affectionately known as “Sissy,” was described as a person who came from humble beginnings and continued to lead a humble life.
Her family said Simmons never chased the riches in life or pursued a “pipe dream.” She never believed in the material things of the world and once stated “you can gain a lot of wealth but you can’t take that stuff to your grave.” Her family said Simmons was a great cook with a good sense of humor, which kept everyone laughing. She died on February 7. She was 69.
Simmons was born on March 4, 1942, in Helena, Arkansas, to Joseph A. Littlejohn and Mary B. Littlejohn. She was the fifth child of nine children. In 1947, her family came to Philadelphia where they made their home.
Simmons was raised in the Church of Christ and attended services regularly with her family. She received her education from the Bache-Martin Public School. While attending there, she excelled in the trade of seamstress. She was also involved in the performing arts.
She married James Edward Simmons in 1965. From this union was born two children, Gail Simmons and James Simmons Jr.
During her adult life, Simmons returned to school to finish her studies at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. While there she reunited with many friends from the hearing-impaired community.
Simmons worked for the Salvation Army, then later became a Master Seamstress with the Women’s Garment Union of Philadelphia. Simmons later retired and traveled to Virginia, Washington, Maryland and Atlanta to visit family, especially her grandchildren.
Simmons maintained a comprehensive library on books about religion, nature and life. She would invite friends over spending hours together, discussing religion and intellectual subjects into the night. She did a lot of reading to motivate herself — this led Simmons becoming a devout Jehovah Witness. In 2003 she gained qualification as a publisher and made door-to-door visits to homes in the community.
Simmons was baptized in 2007. She attended services at the Kingdom Hall and traveled extensively with the ministry until her health began fail. She was an active member of the Philadelphia Silent Social Club and the National Fraternal Society of the Deaf.
Simmons leaves to mourn: two children, Gail Simmons and James Simmons Jr.; four siblings, Juanita Passmore, Claudette Harris, Joseph Littlejohn and Dottie Dee Littlejohn; two grandchildren, Jahmella Simmons and Preshana Simmons; great-grandson, Mason Bray; and a host of nephews, nieces, other relatives and friends.
Services will be held Saturday, Feb. 18 at Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall 6826 Ardleigh Ave. The viewing will be at 8 a.m. The service will start at 9 a.m. Slater Funeral Home handled the arrangements.