Emily B. Chapman, educator

Emily B. Chapman
Emily B. Chapman
Posted: August 14, 2013

Emily Bernice Chapman, 82, formerly of East Mount Airy, a longtime educator in the Philadelphia School District, died Tuesday, July 30, of Alzheimer's disease at Cheltenham Nursing & Rehab Center.

Mrs. Chapman believed in the power of education and sought to instill the love of self-betterment in others.

She earned her master's degree from Temple University in 1964 and a doctorate in educational administration in 1979 from the University of Sarasota, now part of Argosy University.

Mrs. Chapman taught at William Penn High School for Girls. She also served as the dean of students.

"As an educator and disciplinarian, she was both loving and no-nonsense," said her daughter, Victoria L.

She was active in the formation of a group called Just Friends, which started with home economics teachers at William Penn and grew to include educators from other district schools.

After three decades in the Philadelphia schools, she retired in the late 1980s and went to work as associate director for urban affairs at the Lincoln University Urban Center.

Born in Abbeville, S.C., Mrs. Chapman graduated in 1951 from South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, where she pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha and majored in home economics.

While there, she met Lee Manuel Chapman. In 1957, the two married and moved to Philadelphia.

Mrs. Chapman pushed hard, "graciously encouraging all young people to rise to their best," said her daughter.

For the last two decades, Mrs. Chapman was a member of Zion Baptist Church, where she taught Sunday school.

She served on the board of trustees for Springside School in Chestnut Hill from 1971 to 1976 while her daughter was a student there.

Mrs. Chapman was a seamstress who made wedding dresses for friends. She enjoyed working on jigsaw puzzles; her husband framed and hung them on the walls in their home.

She also had an encyclopedic memory for basketball. One day in Los Angeles, she recognized three of four members of the Cleveland Cavaliers outside a restaurant. "She greeted three of them by name," said her daughter. "I was floored."

Surviving, in addition to her husband of 56 years and her daughter, are a son, Leander Mathis; a brother; a sister; and nieces and nephews.

Services are past. Burial was in Northwood Cemetery.

Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8102 or bcook@phillynews.com.


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