Rev. Hiawatha Coleman, 80

Posted: December 04, 1989

The Rev. Hiawatha Coleman, pastor emeritus of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, died Thursday. He was 80 and lived in Southwest Philadelphia.

Coleman served as pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist from 1955 to 1986 when he retired. He replaced the late Rev. Charles W. Gregory.

Coleman was pastor of the church at 50th Street and Woodland Avenue during a period of growth in which membership climbed from about 950 to more than 1,200, a new structure was built and a computerized organ was installed.

Upon Coleman's retirement, the Rev. Willie E. Robinson became pastor, only the third minister since the church was founded in 1914.

Coleman was a man who punctuated his sermons with anecdotes and analogies to make his point. A low-keyed, humble man, he was regarded as one who stood for "peace and harmony" in the church, said Loretta Killebrew, clerk of the church.

He was also described as a man with a sense of humor, who could relate to young people and inspire volunteerism in the church. One of his favorite sayings was, "Keep on keeping on," she said.

According to Killebrew, Coleman was a preacher who urged his congregation to forget as well as forgive and never to hold grudges. She said he emphasized Christian behavior as a "standard of living."

During his ministry, he was directly responsible for bringing into the ministery 11 men - seven who are now pastors of churches and four who are associate ministers.

Born in Halifax County, Va., Coleman joined Spanish Grove Baptist Church at age 12. He moved to Philadelphia in 1925 and joined Tabernacle Baptist Church, now the First Baptist Church of Paschall. He served in that church on the usher board, the trustee board and with the choir.

He later moved his membership to Mt. Nebo Baptist Church, where he was a trustee and was ordained a deacon. He was called to the ministry in 1936 and in 1944 was ordained at Mt. Nebo. He then went to New Bethel Baptist Church at 17th and Carpenter streets where he served nearly four years. Coleman joined Mt. Zion Church in 1947.

He had attended New Era Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and in 1958 received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Miller University. He was to have been honored this Friday by the Baptist Pastors' Conference, which recognizes pastors age 80 or older.

Active in numerous church organizations, Coleman was on the Executive Board of Foreign Missions for the National Baptist Convention USA Inc. and its Selective Patronage Committee of 400 Pastors.

He was a member of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia, the Baptist Ministers Conference of Philadelphia and Vicinity and the Pennsylvania Baptist Association. He was lifetime emeritus member of the board of directors of Mercy Douglass Human Services Corp.

He was preceded in death by his first two wives, Dorothy Coleman and S. Louise Coleman. He married the former Marie Morgan in 1987.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by four sons, Calvin, Nathaniel, Sherman and Ronald Coleman; a daughter, Dorothy Coleman Thompson, 16 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 50th Street and Woodland Avenue, where friends may call after 3 p.m. Burial will be in Rolling Green Memorial Park, Route 202 and Route 3, West Chester.


Florence H. McCracken, a retired teacher who was active in her church, died Friday. She was 79 and lived in Upper Darby.

A graduate of Philadelphia High School for Girls and the old Philadelphia Normal School, McCracken taught at Christ Memorial Episcopal School in West Philadelphia during the 1960s.

At the same time she worked during the summers for the Upper Darby Recreation Department at Stonehurst Hills Elementary School. She also did substitute teaching at various Delaware County schools.

The former Florence Hartman, McCracken was a member of Stonehurst Hills United Methodist Church for more than 40 years. She served as the superintendent of the primary school from 1953 to 1983. She also was a member of the National Honor Society and was a former den mother for the Cub Scouts.

Survivors include her husband of 50 years, Robert D. McCracken; two sons, Terence D. and David D., 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Frank C. Videon Funeral Home, Sproul and Lawrence roads, Broomall, where friends may call one hour before the service. Burial will be in Valley Forge Gardens, King of Prussia.

Contributions may be made to Stonehurst United Methodist Church, Millbank and Midway avenues, Upper Darby.


Patricia "Penny" Harmon, a secretary and former professional dancer, died Tuesday. She was 51 and lived in Orlando, Fla.

Raised in South Philadelphia, Harmon was a graduate of West Philadelphia High School. She moved to Florida two years ago. The former Patricia Miles, she had danced for three years with the Hortense Allen Troupe and also was with the Larry Steele Dancers, performing throughout the East Coast and Canada.

She attended both the Sidney School of Dance and the Berean Business School, She was an executive secretary for the Sun Oil Co. and the Philadelphia Board of Education. She was married to James Harmon.

Survivors include a son, Lamont; her mother, Maggie Miles; her grandmother, Lillian Cordell, and a sister, Bernardine Gordon.

Services will be held at noon tomorrow at the Hawkins Funeral Home, 17th and Federal streets, where friends may call two hours before the service. Burial will be in Mt. Lawn Cemetery, 84th Street and Hook Road, Sharon Hill, Delaware County.


Nicholas Reginelli, a former grocer, died Friday. He was 48 and lived in South Philadelphia.

For 22 years, Reginelli operated Nick's Self-Service at 16th and McKean streets. He was a member of St. Monica's Roman Catholic Church. He was a former member of the Neighborhood Grocers Association.

Survivors include his wife, the former Elaine Caputo; two daughters, Lisa and Tina; his mother, Anna Reginelli, and a sister, Mary Roehrs.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Monica's Church, 17th and Ritner streets. Burial will be in Holy Cross Cemetery, Baily Road and Wycombe Avenue, Yeadon, Delaware County.

Friends may call between 7 and 9:30 tomorrow night at Pennsylvania Burial Co., 1327-29 S. Broad St.

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