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Geneva A. Black

April 30, 1932 November 3, 2020
Geneva  A. Black
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Obituary for Geneva A. Black

Geneva’s Life Story

GENEVA ARLENE BLACK was born to the late Isaac and Carrie Sanders on April 30, 1932 in Dalzell, South Carolina. She was the eldest of ten children. Geneva, affectionately known as “Mamacita and Sis”, was called Home to Glory, earning her angel wings from Our Lord and Savior on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
Geneva was raised by Mary J. Jones, who preceded her in death, fondly known as “Mama” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After Mama’s transition, Geneva was raised by her maternal grandmother, Alger Franklin Hollimon, who also preceded her in death. Grandmother Hollimon raised her for the duration of her adolescent years in South Carolina. In 1949, Geneva returned to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she would spend the rest of her life.
Geneva married the late Robert S. Black on November 24, 1951. From this union, they were blessed with five children: Ronald, Robert Sr., Clarissa, Michael and Steven. Out of all the hats Geneva wore, she assumed tremendous pride in being a mother. She always made sure that her children experienced adventures outside of their West Philadelphia neighborhood, exposing them to unforgettable moments and memories that they will cherish for a lifetime. Geneva was heavily invested in the basketball careers of her sons, attending practices and games; no matter where they were. Although she was small in stature, she became a giant when displaying her passion regarding her children. Geneva’s children adored and admired her tenacity and good-hearted nature. The children from the neighborhood loved and knew her as “Ms. Geneva.” Paula E. Parham was a surrogate daughter to Ms. Geneva. All of the children in the area fondly considered her their neighborhood Mom.
In 1976, Geneva’s life took on an exciting new role that she so proudly accepted as Grandmother, when her first grandchild, Jeanine, was born. From this, the name “Mamacita” meaning “Little Mommy” came to be. Over the years, she was blessed with four more granddaughters: Denise, Ronique, Shemika and Jocelyn, and one grandson, Robert Jr. Her duties as a grandmother were something that she didn’t take lightly, constantly displaying unconditional love and selfless acts, in addition to providing unwavering support at all times. Geneva’s grandchildren were able to further bless her life and legacy with fifteen great-grandchildren. If you knew Mamacita, you absolutely knew how much she adored her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and family. You more than likely wouldn’t walk away from a conversation without her making mention of her family. She loved spending time with her family more than anything in the world.
Geneva had an abundance of interests and hobbies. She enjoyed spending time with friends, traveling, cooking for her family and friends, sewing and knitting, and her favorite pastime of all, shopping. Geneva had a few special friends. Her “Golden Girls” enjoyed playing cards, going out to eat, and attending functions throughout the city. Geneva traveled to many places in and out of the country and was very well cultured. She enjoyed vacationing to exotic places like Hawaii and Jamaica, but nothing was more fulfilling to her than visiting with her family in South Carolina, Connecticut, and New York. Everyone loved her cooking! Her butter pound cakes and soul food was something that they all looked forward to and it didn’t have to be a holiday for her to prepare a special meal. Geneva was a reliable seamstress and made bridal party gowns, prom dresses for her grandchildren, choir robes, etc. In more recent years, she absolutely loved to crochet. She taught a local crocheting class at Vine Memorial Baptist Church and made an abundance of blankets, hats and scarves. One of her preferred enjoyments in life was shopping, especially with her daughter/best-friend, Clarissa. She loved any mall, Walmart, Lord & Taylor, QVC and the Home Shopping Network. Her closets were adorned with beautiful clothing, sophisticated hats, and stunning shoes. She was a stylish fashionista who beamed light when she walked into any room and left a trail of sparkle everywhere she went.
Geneva has always had a very strong and keen foundation in her faith and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as her Savior early in life. She loved the Lord with her whole heart and carried the spirit of the Lord with her at all times. Geneva joined and became an active member of Vine Memorial Baptist Church in the early 1980’s and devoted much of her time and energy attending church services and serving as a Trustee. Geneva was not a person to talk the talk when it came to her spirituality. She walked the walk in every sense of the word. She served and co-chaired several committees including: the Pastor's Anniversary Committee, the Church Anniversary Committee, Homecoming Day, Harvest Sunday, and the Annual Women's Day Celebrations. Geneva was unanimously elected to the Board of Trustees in 1994, where she served faithfully for the following twenty-five years, and chaired the Personnel Committee. Because of her wide-ranging expertise, Trustee Black was called upon to coordinate numerous other efforts, but one in particular wowed the congregation with the program she planned for the Church Mortgage burning celebration, a grand-scale luncheon held with a cruise theme. In recent years, the group that was near and dear to her heart was a beloved group of ladies who met faithfully each week to hone their skills at knitting and crocheting. They developed a true bond of kinship and fellowship, and they looked forward to Trustee Black's instruction and wisdom she shared.
She absolutely loved her church family and gave all that she had to Vine Memorial Baptist Church for the duration of her tenure.
Her Legend
Geneva received her formal education in the Philadelphia, PA and Sumter, SC public school systems. After high school, Geneva held jobs in retail, beauty, cooking, and working as her own personal seamstress prior to securing a position as a Housing Coordinator for the Haddington Leadership Organizat-ion. Throughout her employment, she sought to further her education by studying Social Work Administration and receiving her Associate’s Degree from Temple University. She also excelled in obtaining her certification as a Mental Health and Aging Practitioner. In 1973 while working for Haddington, she began to realize that many senior citizens were not receiving specific services that they were entitled to despite their socio-ecomic status. It was at that point that she decided to move forward in her mission and Haddington Multi-Services for Older Adults was cultivated.
Geneva began working diligently by writing and proposing various grants to elected city officials for opening her first senior citizens center in West Philadelphia. With perseverance and persistence, she became the Founder and Executive Director of Haddington Multi-Services for Older Adults, which she operated in excess of 41 years, retiring in 2012. Her first senior facility was located on the corner of 55th and Haverford. Geneva eventually decided to expand her vision and succeeded in raising over 1.5 million dollars with the assistance of the Board of Directors and elected city officials such as Mayor Rendell, Congressman Chaka Fattah, and State Senator Vincent Hughes. The new state-of-the-art senior citizens facility would be located at a former firehouse on 54th and Haverford. Geneva worked day and night to ensure that the seniors at Haddington would receive as many services as possible and supported throughout their twilight years. Everyone, clients and staff included, loved and greatly appreciated her tenacity, transparency, and genuine concern. Geneva did so much to bring smiles to the faces of her loving seniors. She gave them opportunities to travel in and out of the country, take local trips to Broadway shows and revues, showcase and sell their craftsmanship at center bizarre’s, perform and participate in an annual talent show at Daroff Elementary School called the Rock Away Revue, and featured senior fashions during annual luncheons and fashion shows. The center offered activities and supportive services ranging from socialization, classes on various subjects including technology, legal and personal counseling, low-impact exercising, arts and crafts, playing cards and pool, and a host of other opportunities. Geneva made it her business to shed light on senior citizen’s issues and insight during a WDAS radio show, called “Senior Hour,” where she served as radio host. There was never a dull moment at Haddington Multi-Services and Geneva wouldn’t have it any other way.
Her mission and earthly purpose was recognized through various accolades, honorable mentions, and awards. In 1995, Geneva was awarded a Congressional Commendation by Congressman Chaka Fattah. She was inducted into the Afro-American Hall of Fame at Drexel University and referred by the Philadelphia Corporation for the Aging to represent Philadelphia at the White House where she met Bill Clinton in 1996. Geneva was awarded two citations in 2000 by State Representative Louise Williams-Bishop for Outstanding Community Service. In the same year, she was also the recipient of AARP’s Golden Life Award. In 2001, Geneva was elected President of the Top Ladies of Distinction and was also named in an edition of Who’s Who Among American Women. She continued to receive acknowledgement through awards, citations, and distinctions throughout her professional journey. Her expertise and voyage in caring for senior citizens with a delicate and loving hand was natural. Geneva’s work was personal, it was purpose filled, it was proverbial. To say that she was a force to be reckoned with would be an understatement.

1972: Mother of The Year - Young Great Society of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1976: Appreciation Award - George Brooks School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1981: Appreciation Award - Older Adults of Haddington
1983: Appreciation Award - West Philadelphia Caucus; Leon S. Rosenthal Award of Humanitarian and Community Service - West Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce
1984: Appreciation Award - J&H Daycare Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1985: Citation for Outstanding Community Service - Pennsylvania House of Representatives
1987: Citation for Outstanding Community Service, Pennsylvania House of Representatives; Runner up for the National Community Service Award - Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company
1989: Community Service Award for Outstanding Contribution, Leadership and Dedication to the Philadelphia Community - The National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club, Philadelphia Chapter
1990: Outstanding Community Service Award for 20 years for Community Service - Haddington Multi-Service for Older Adults Incorporated; Citation for Outstanding Community Service - Governor of Pennsylvania, Robert P. Casey; Citation for Outstanding Community Service - Pennsylvania State Senate (June, 1990), Issued by State Senator Chaka Fattah; Two Citations for Outstanding Community Service from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (May 1990) - Issued by the State Representative Vincent Hughes (June 1990) - Issued by State Representative Louise Williams-Bishop; Diligent Service Award - Housing Association Delaware Valley
1991: Community Service Award - Emergency Fund for Older Philadelphians, PCA
1993: Outstanding Service to the Aging - Judicare, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Community Service Award - Philadelphia Baptist Church
1994: Allen Yaffe Service Award - Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, Emergency Fund Coalition; Appreciation Advisory Council Award - United Postal Service
1995: Wade Cable Vision Community Service Award; University of Pennsylvania Certificate of Appreciation; Congressional Commendation - Congressman Chaka Fattah; Age and Youth Achievement Award and Action; Proclamation Mayor Ed Rendell; Citation House of Representatives - Michael Horsey
1996: Political Awareness and Involvement by Delta Sigma Sorority Inc.; Inducted into the Afro-American Hall of Fame - Drexel University
1997: Service to Seniors Award - Top Ladies of Distinction
1998: Community Service Award - Wade Cable Time Warner
1999: AARP Golden Life Award; Edition of Who’s Who Among American Women
2000: Celebrated 30th Year Anniversary - Executive Director Haddington Multi-Services Inc.; Received Extra Mile Recognition Award for Punchey’s Seafood Community Program; Community Service Award - State Representative Louise Williams-Bishop
2001 - Named in Who’s Who Among American Women; President of the Top Ladies of Distinction, Philadelphia Branch; Chosen by Motrin as one of the ‘Women Leaders’ in Philadelphia; Mary McLeod Bethune Award
2002: President Award - Center on Ethnic and Minority Aging Inc.; Finalist and Winner of the Governor’s Gold/Silver Award for Diversity; NAACP Award “Outstanding Community Service Award”
2004: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things - WDAS AM/FM Clear Channel Station; Pioneer Award, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging
2005: Outstanding Advocate for Elders Award, SeniorLAW Center
2006: 191st Legislative Districts Community Service Award, State Representative Ronald G. Waters
2010: Citation - Councilman James Kenney; Citation - State Representative Ronald G. Waters; Citation - State Representative Louise Williams-Bishop; 40th Anniversary Award - Senator Vincent Hughes
2011: Carroll Park Association for Volunteerism; Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. - Beta Delta Zeta Chapter - Finer Womanhood “The Elegance of Change;” The Anne Hughes Shero of the Heart Award
2014: Grandparents GRAND Award, Gateway Health A Better Way
2016: Honored by the SeniorLAW Center for Protecting the Rights of Older Pennsylvanians, 360 Award, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2018: Administrative Ability Leadership & Dedicated Service Award (Board of Trustees); Trustee of the Year Award, Vine Memorial Baptist Church

Her Legacy
Geneva’s purpose driven life was fueled by faith, love, compassion, and complete selflessness. She was a Proverbs 31 woman clothed in strength and dignity, speaking with wisdom and faithful instruction, in addition to maintaining integrity and giving glory to our Lord and Savior all the days of her life. Geneva worked tirelessly with a devotion to sowing many seeds into a bountiful harvest.
Geneva’s community loved her for being thoughtful and caring. If you lived on or around 57th Street or the 5500 block of Poplar Street, you knew Ms. Black. She spoke with everyone and could often be found sitting on her front porch with her loyal Pomeranian “Tee-2.” Geneva served as the Block Captain on Poplar Street for many, many years, petitioning for block parties, street cleaning, grants to beautify the neighborhood, and anything else that she felt would be beneficial for the residents on her street. Her uplifting and considerate spirit is irreplaceable.
Geneva was a pillar in the West Philadelphia (Haddington) community who desired nothing more than living up to being her “Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper.” Haddington Multi-Services for Older Adults was a significantly impactful portion of her journey. She carried so much pride, joy, and treasure in her heart for her seniors, her staff, and those who supported and assisted her with converting her vision and mission into reality. As you cruise through West Philadelphia and make your way past 54th and Haverford Avenue, look up and smile at the name on the street sign and the name on the Haverford Avenue side of the firehouse that reads “Geneva Black Way” and “Geneva A Black Building.” Geneva made history with the support of Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. and Councilwoman Janie Blackwell. Her extraordinary deeds, wise counsel, and massive heart will never be forgotten.
Above all things, Geneva had unconditional love and complete adoration for her family. She thoroughly enjoyed getting together with family and just having a good time. The cookouts and trips to Wildwood that she coordinated, playing Scrabble, Rummikub and Pokeno with family and friends, and spending family holidays together are at the top of the list of what brought her immense joy. The family knew and adored her for being the jazzy lady and earthly angel that never wavered in her love, support, encouragement, hope and commitment. Geneva was the core, backbone, and Matriarch of her family. Her infectious laugh, joyful spirit, and steadfast faithful wisdom will always remain beyond compare.
Priceless and unforgettable memories fill our souls and will be cherished forever by her surviving loved ones: Geneva’s children, sons, Ronald (Gwendolyn), Robert, Sr. (Michelle), Michael, Steven, and her special, miniature four-legged fierce protector, “Tee-2”; only daughter and best friend, Clarissa Wells (Dennis); grandchildren, Jeanine (Soul), Denise, Robert, Jr. (Anais), Ronique (Earnest), Shemika and Jocelyn; great-grandchildren, Jade, Janelle, Anisa, Raegan, Ryan, Josiah, Robert, Anthony, Alaysia, Daniel, Dion, Dior, Riley, Caiden and Marley; family in South Carolina, New York, Connecticut and beyond, consisting of: two sisters, Bessie Sanders-Gordon and Thomasina Singleton; one brother, Marion Sanders; aunt and best friend, Myrtle Wright; god-daughter, Thais Moore and family; god-daughter, Rene’ Bryant-Martin and family; and a host of nieces, nephews, in-laws and cousins. She also leaves to cherish her memory, honorary grandchildren, friends, church family, community members, and city officials.
Geneva was preceded in heavenly transition by her brother Johnny Jones; sisters Shirley Jenkins and Patricia Sanders-Scott; and brothers Gene, Isaac, and Melvin Sanders.
Geneva Lived! She Loved! She Laughed! She was Legendary! Her Legacy shall serve as a reminder to live and love well as she did and desired for each of you. In her own words that she would speak fervently…..God Bless You Real Good!!!

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