Columbus Pearl Knox, Renowned Philly Artist

Posted: June 15, 1999

Columbus Pearl Knox used broken pieces of plaster of paris to sketch on the street as a small boy at 21st and Wharton streets in South Philadelphia. He grew up to be a well-known Philadelphia artist who mirrored his life as a black American in his artwork and was still painting when he died Tuesday. He was 75 and lived in Germantown.

"My father never stopped painting up until the time he passed away," said his daughter, Nancy Knox.

"He painted everything, although in his later years you could see that everything was leading toward a religious theme," she said.

Among Knox's work with a religious theme was a painting of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus, which he sold to Bill Cosby, his daughter said.

Knox's last painting, of "two little cherubs," was sold at the last show where he displayed his artwork, on Rittenhouse Square last Saturday, his daughter said.

Knox expressed his experiences as an African-American, with paintings like "Black Madonna," exhibited at the African-American Museum and at local art shows.

Prominent among Knox's paintings is a portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. displayed at the Philadelphia school named after King, his daughter said.

Another of his paintings, "Pebbles," of "a little black girl in bifocals," won an art competition, she said.

Knox's brother, Norman, was also an artist.

Columbus Knox graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School, formerly the old Central High building, and received a scholarship to the Philadelphia Museum School of Art, his daughter said. He later studied at the Philadelphia College of Art.

During World War II, Knox served in the Army, where he faced discrimination as a black soldier, he wrote in the catalog at one of the shows where "Black Madonna" was displayed.

He began his career doing art layouts for an advertising agency and later became art director for the Naval Supply Depot. He did graphics design and other artwork for various government agencies and retired as a visual media specialist for the federal Office of Mining and Safety in the late 1980s, Nancy Knox said.

Knox also visited Philadelphia public schools encouraging children to become interested in art.

Besides his daughter, he is survived by Lola, his wife of 52 years; two sons, Columbus Jr. and Shelley, and seven daughters, Dolores Gauthney, and Juanita, Lorraine, Margaret, Loretta, Lola, and Marion Knox.

A viewing will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. tomorrow at Calvary Lutheran Church, 54th Street and Springfield Avenue, where services will be conducted Thursday at 10 a.m. Burial will be at Rolling Green Memorial Park, West Chester.

Thomas R. McLaughlin

Thomas Robert "Frog" McLaughlin, an elevator mechanic at Center City skyscrapers, youth sports coach and friend to everyone, died Saturday. He was 52 and lived in Northeast Philadelphia.

McLaughlin wasn't much into sports growing up but after he had his own children, he became deeply involved in coaching kids in baseball, soccer, ice hockey and basketball, said his son, Douglas.

"I guess he lived vicariously through the children of today. He was an excellent father. He was there for every practice, every game," his son said.

McLaughlin served 10 years as vice president of the Academy Sabres Sports Association and most recently was elected vice president of the Archbishop Ryan Ice Hockey Club.

He also took up golf as an adult and became a runner, his son said.

"He was very outgoing. He was always the positive one." his son said. "He made friends with all he encountered, from vice presidents to high school kids.

"He was happy." His sudden death was "the perfect ending to his life," his son said. "It was just 25 years too early."

McLaughlin was a member of Local 5, International Union of Elevator Constructors.

Besides Douglas, McLaughlin is survived by his wife, Virginia and three other sons, Thomas Robert, Ryan Patrick and Timothy, and a sister, Bonnie Dougherty.

A viewing will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight at the Galzerano Funeral Home, 9304 Old Bustleton Ave.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated tomorrow at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Calvary Church, 11024 Knights Road.

Burial be at Our Lady of Grace Cemetery, Langhorne.

Mattie Brown services

Services were to be held today for Mattie Brown, 84, of West Philadelphia, a retired social worker who loved caring for children. She died June 9.

A widow, Brown worked for nearly three decades as a social worker for the city of Philadelphia and retired in the early 1980s.

She always loved taking care of children, that was her forte," said her daughter, Deloris Anderson, her only survivor. "She always had somebody's children. If it wasn't the children, she was in the church."

Services were to be held at 10 a.m. at Resurrection Baptist Church, 54th Street and Lansdowne Avenue. Burial is at Glenwood Cemetery, West Chester Pike and Sterner Avenue, Broomall.

Aubrey K. Whitlock

Aubrey K. Whitlock was an affable, outgoing man, a "jokester," his son, Wendell, said. But Whitlock never talked about his service in World War II. It wasn't until Whitlock, 81, of West Philadelphia, died June 9, that his son found his father's medals.

"I was looking through his discharge papers, and I discovered the Distinguished Service Medal with two Bronze Stars," Wendell Whitlock said. He said his father served in the Army from 1943 to 1945 in Europe, North Africa and the China-Burma theater. "But he never talked about it."

The personable Whitlock, a retired boilermaker at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, wasn't shy about anything else however, and volunteered extensively at Traveler's Aid, the Daroff Elementary School and for the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, greeting tourists at Penn's Landing, his son said.

He recalled one story his father told about a man who came to Traveler's Aid and wanted to take a bus to Puerto Rico and asked where he could buy a ticket. "My father spent a half hour," Wendell said, convincing the man that as far as he could get by bus was Miami.

The elder Whitlock also was a Mason and past member of Ionic Lodge Number 112 and high priest of the Royal Arch chapter.

Besides his son he is survived by his wife, Helen; two brothers, William Jr. and Louis, and five grandchildren.

Services were to be held today at 11 a.m. at the African-Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, Lancaster and Overbrook avenues, following a 10 a.m. viewing.

Burial will be at Rolling Green Memorial Park, West Chester.

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