Churchwoman Margaret Tripp dies at 101

Posted: May 24, 2012

THE HOUSE at 5507 Locust St. in West Philadelphia was long the gathering place for the Tripp clan.The eight children of Margaret Frye Tripp and Melvin Donald Tripp would gather around the kitchen table and share their day’s doings, their feelings, their problems, all in a spirit of family love and concern.

The house itself was something of a miracle. Margaret bought it from wages earned as a housekeeper for other families. She was proud of her accomplishment, a tribute to her courage and determination, as well as her desire to be independent, never depending on the charity of others.

Margaret Tripp, a devoted churchwoman who credited her Christian faith for whatever she was able to accomplish in life, died May 14. She was 101 and was living in a nursing home in Philadelphia. Born on Nov. 19, 1911, Margaret had been honored by Mayor Nutter at a luncheon for attaining the century mark and was looking forward to another honor this year, her family said.

“She had a very strong personality,” said her son, Larry. “She never wanted to depend on anyone.”

When Larry returned from service in the Air Force in the Vietnam War, he headed right back to that kitchen table at 5507 Locust St. to be with his mother and the rest of the family.

“We shared good times, bad times, and many memories together at this house,” her family said. “And she made it a home for all.”

Margaret was the one to go to with troubles and she was always ready with advice. After all, anyone who lived as long as she did, had to have had some knowledge of the ways of the world and its inhabitants — what is popularly known as “mother wit.”

Her strength was called on when her beloved husband, an employee of the Scott Paper Co., died in the early ‘50s, leaving her to raise eight children by herself. She was, of course, up to it.

“She’d take care of other people’s children, scrub their floors, then come home and take care of us,” Larry said.

Margaret was born in Caroline County, Va., to Carrie Wise Frye and Battle Frye. She was the fifth of their 10 children. She got her early education in a boarding school and graduated from Stelton High School.

She was 8 when she was baptized at Shiloh Baptist Church in Caroline County, Va., beginning a lifelong devotion to the Baptist faith.

After her arrival in Philadelphia, she met and married Melvin Donald Tripp in July 1931. She became a member of White Rock Baptist Church, 5240 Chestnut St., where she participated in a number of church activities, including the Busy Bees and the Golden Gourmet, and made herself available for whatever the church needed doing. She remained a faithful member for 40 years.

What did Margaret Tripp leave behind in the way of a legacy? Her family wrote:

“As evident from the legacy started with the birth of our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother, the fruit from the seed that was planted many years ago continues to produce a bountiful harvest that will ensure a banquet fit for the kings and queens of this legacy.”

Besides her son, she is survived by two daughters, Constance Burrell and Cynthia Allen; 15 grandchildren; 26 great-grandchildren, and 12 great-great-grandchildren..

Services: Were Tuesday. Burial was in Eden Cemetery, Collingdale. n

Contact John F. Morrison at 215-854-5573 or, or on Twitter @johnfmorrison.

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