David L. Torrance, 100, whose faith and optimism kept him going

Posted: July 18, 2014

DAVID TORRANCE'S motto was "be ready."

And he was.

David meant the saying in a spiritual sense: Be ready to meet your maker. But he also meant it as a code for living the good life: Be ready for both tribulations and joy.

David had both in abundance over his 100 years of life.

He died Sunday in the Bala Nursing and Retirement Center. He was born in Georgia, but had lived most of his life in South Philadelphia.

"He was a comical guy," said his daughter Yvonne Torrance. "His sense of humor was contagious.

"He didn't take himself too seriously. He said never worry about anything. He got to be 100 by not worrying.

" 'Take things as they come,' he would say. Some things you can control and some things you can't. You have to know the difference."

David also credited his Catholic faith, and he consulted his Bible every day.

That David had an optimistic outlook on life was evident in his own behavior and his relations with family and friends.

David was able to hold a conversation with anybody on any given subject with knowledge gained over many years of intensive reading and observing the foibles of his fellow man.

At age 97, he awoke one day and found he couldn't stand. He used a wheelchair from then on, but he made the best of it.

He wasn't too happy about going into a nursing home, but he quickly made friends and was very popular among fellow guests and employees. They called him "Pop."

"He lived a long and prosperous life filled with love," said granddaughter Angie Baylock, who runs the Newspapers in Education program for Interstate General Media, publisher of the Daily News, the Inquirer and Philly.com.

David was born in Leary, Ga. His mother died in childbirth. His father, William Torrance, was a building contractor.

He came to Philadelphia in the early '50s for better employment opportunities. He worked for Majestic Tailors in South Philadelphia as a tailor and presser for 25 years. His wife, the former Lucy Baker, also worked there.

After he left Majestic, he went to work for Graduate Hospital in the dietary department. His last job was in environmental services for the former Strawbridge & Clothier department store. He worked until he was 83.

David was a 48-year member of St. Charles Borromeo Church, where he served as a greeter, meeting parishioners at the door with his ready smile and charming personality into his early 90s.

He also enjoyed being in the church's senior center, where he spent hours playing pinochle and checkers and kibitzing with the other oldsters.

"Mom wouldn't go there, because she said she wasn't a senior," Yvonne said. Her mother died in 2012 at age 92.

David was a rabid Phillies fan and often got to the ballpark to watch the team. His daughter said a highlight of his fandom was six or seven years ago when he and his daughter were sitting behind home plate and the Phils scored 13 runs.

"I can still feel the excitement," she said.

David was a devoted family man who raised eight children. He enjoyed being with them and his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

"He was a positive role model for his children, grandchildren and everyone he came in contact with," his family said. "His love of reading influenced his children and many of his grandchildren who also love to read."

Besides his daughter, he is survived by three other daughters, Geraldine Goodin, Barbara Bayton and Audrey Baylock; four sons, Arthur, Allen, Hanif Beyah and David Torrance; a sister, Sophie Hunter; 12 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

Services: Funeral Mass 11 a.m. Monday at St. Charles Borromeo Church, 20th and Christian streets. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be at Northwood Cemetery, 15th and Haines streets.

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