Lucille Parker, 100, longtime housekeeper and church woman

Posted: August 26, 2014

WHEN LUCILLE Parker was in 11th grade in Norfolk, Va., her mother, Cora, had to take a job to help support the family, leaving Lucille to care for five brothers and a sister.

Being a substitute mother at such an early age was a valuable experience that Lucille put to good use when she came to Philadelphia and started her own family, as well as while caring for the families of others.

She spent most of her long life working as a housekeeper for Philadelphia-area families, for whom she was highly valued for her work ethic, her concern and her love of others.

Lucille died Aug. 17 at age 100. She was living at the Kearsley Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, in Wynnefield, and had lived most of her life in South Philadelphia.

She brought two other important characteristics with her from the South: a skill with needle and thread, and a talent for Southern-style cooking, with fried chicken unlike anything you will find at the local fast-food joints, served with the usual collard greens, macaroni-and-cheese and all the trimmings.

She also brought a sense of humor. Living so many years and working hard at whatever task she undertook, Lucille maintained a humorous outlook on life, which she shared with everyone.

"She was the family comedian," said her son, Henry Harris Sr. "She had a lot of wit. She could keep you laughing."

He also used the word "intellectual" to describe his mother. She was well-read and kept up with what was going on in the world.

She was also a woman who was always there for family and friends, when anyone needed a wise word or a helping hand.

Lucille was born to Joseph and Cora Parker. She dropped out of school in 11th grade to care for her siblings.

When she arrived in Philadelphia in the '30s, she took a job in a clothing factory, using her skill with needle and thread to make garments.

She also made her own clothes, because Lucille was a gal who always wanted to look her best and keep up with the latest fashions.

After the factory job, she took up domestic work, doing housekeeping, work to which she applied her good taste and diligence.

Lucille became an important 50-year asset to St. Joseph's Baptist Church when it was at 4th and Sansom streets, and later when it moved to 54th and Vine streets.

She was a member of the Usher Board, the Mothers Board and the Flower Club, which helped pick out floral displays for special occasions. She was always available for whatever the church needed doing.

Besides her son, she is survived by three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Services: Were yesterday. Burial was in Merion Memorial Park, Bala Cynwyd.

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