Edna Mae Bantom, 92, skilled seamstress and real-estate salesperson

Posted: November 29, 2013

IF YOU WERE a member of the family of Edna Mae Bantom, you didn't have to worry about looking stylish when you went out on the town.

Edna was a magician with needle and thread, and made clothes for both women and men in her family, as well as neighbors in her Kingsessing community who needed her special touch.

"She made my senior prom dress," said her daughter, Mary K. Bantom. "It was beautiful, one of a kind. When people asked me where I got it, I said, 'Mommy did it.' "

Edna Bantom, who was self-employed as a seamstress for a time, then sold real estate for a firm established by her late husband, an active churchwoman and devoted family matriarch, died Nov. 21. She would have been 93 tomorrow. She had lived in Kingsessing all her life.

She was born in Philadelphia to Clayton and Mary Rich. She graduated from West Philadelphia High School and went on to study fashion design at the Berean Institute.

Edna worked at the Naval Aviation Supply Depot in North Philadelphia during World War II.

She loved being with her extended family and taking care of them. She was an outstanding cook and passed on her skill and recipes to her daughter, who has made an art of her culinary accomplishments.

Edna was good at preparing every kind of food, and made a legendary corn pudding.

She married Walter E. Bantom Jr. in 1944. They were married for 60 years before his death in 2005.

His real-estate firm started at 48th Street and Woodland Avenue, and later moved to 52nd Street and Kingsessing Avenue.

"She was a good salesperson," her daughter said. "I used to follow her around when I was a kid. She sold a lot of properties."

Edna was a surrogate mother to many of the children in her neighborhood, as well as her children's friends.

"They'd come in and say, 'Hi, Mom,' " Mary said.

Edna was devoted to her church, Mount Zion Baptist, at 50th Street and Woodland Avenue.

"She loved to go to church," Mary said. "She loved to be with her fellow parishioners, and she enjoyed helping out whenever the church needed something done."

Edna was also active with the Alpha Pi Chi Sorority, which she served as treasurer until her death.

"In essence, Edna enjoyed people and was a true lover of life," her daughter said. "She was a very loving person, concerned about people, and always willing to help out."

Besides her daughter, she is survived by a son, Dr. Walter E. Bantom III, and five grandchildren.

Services: Were Tuesday. Burial was in Fernwood Cemetery.

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