Loretta V. Foreman-Morris dies at 101

Posted: March 10, 2011

WHILE GROWING UP, Loretta Foreman heard relatives talking about their experiences with slavery. And she lived long enough to see a black man become president of the United States.

In fact, President Obama sent her a congratulatory note when she turned 100 on Jan. 4, 2010.

Loretta V. Foreman-Morris, a skilled seamstress, devoted churchwoman and family matriarch, died Saturday at age 101. She lived in West Philadelphia.

"We can all take a lesson home from her story," her family said in an obituary.

Loretta was born the second of the four children of Mark and Virginia Foreman in 1910, when William Howard Taft was president.

She grew up in South Philadelphia, where she attended St. Peter Claver School, at 9th and Lombard streets.

However, she had to leave school to help with family finances and to assist with the younger and elderly family members, as was common in those years.

In the '30s, she took a job with the Works Progress Administration, the program established by President Franklin Roosevelt to put people to work in the Depression.

She taught knitting and sewing, and at the same time made clothes for the Foreman family kids.

During World War II, she worked for the government, first at Fort Mifflin sending supplies and packages to troops, and later at the Quartermaster Corps depot making flags and Army coats.

Loretta married George A. Morris in 1941. They were trend-setters in their community.

They owned the first car in their neighborhood - a light-green 1946 Ford. They were also the first to have a TV in their home, in 1949.

"It was an era in which people helped and looked out for one another," her family said.

"Loretta, or Gram, as we lovingly called her, displayed enormous strength, insurmountable wisdom, and relentless kindness towards everyone."

In 1956, she and her husband bought a house in West Philadelphia.

In the '60s she joined Tabernacle Lutheran Church, where she taught Sunday school and her husband sang in the choir.

Her favorite hymn was "It Is Well With My Soul":

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

 Loretta's granddaughter, Carol Cutrona-Haliburon, wrote a book of poetry, Faith Healing, dedicated to her grandmother - "who inspired me and my siblings to be whatever we wanted, as long as we kept faith in God and remembered that our family came first."

Loretta and George enjoyed traveling, and drove up and down the East Coast.

They also attended events in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Florida. She liked to test her luck at Atlantic City casinos.

Even in her retirement years, Loretta continued to make garments for proms, holidays and other special events for family members.

In the 1930s, Loretta joined the Elks and was active with the O.V. Catto Lodge, at 16th and Fitzwater streets.

Loretta was devoted to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and made sure she attended every graduation and other school events.

Her husband died in 2008. She is survived by a daughter, Virginia Taylor; four other grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

Services: 11 a.m. Saturday at Tabernacle Lutheran Church, 59th and Spruce streets.

Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be in Eden Cemetery in Collingdale.

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