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Lois Arthur

May 18, 1924 January 13, 2021
Lois Arthur
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Obituary for Lois Arthur

Mom will be laid to rest 1/26 in Philadelphia at the West Laurel Hill Cemetery alongside the rest of the Wilson family. If you would like to send flowers for this, please
contact https://www.cwoodfh.com/. They can give you details by phone. A link is also


LIFE STORY

Lois W Arthur was born in Philadelphia on May 18 th 1924, a year after her parents, John Henry Wilson Sr
and Gladys Long married and migrated from Virginia. Her father came North for a job at the Philadelphia Navy
Yard. John bought a house on Frazier Street in West Philadelphia, where the family would live together for the
next ninety-four years. Lois was soon joined by her brothers John Henry Jr, Edward Vernon and her sister
Gladys Louise.
They all had fond memories of growing up together with family-- trips by train to the New Jersey shore, eating
their mother’s homemade biscuits, listening to the radio, (“the Shadow Knows!!!”), getting the first TV on the
block, and their mother saying, “wait until your father gets home!”
Tight family bonds were forged by laughter, loyalty, and love and lasted all of their lives.
The siblings walked to neighborhood schools together until high school. Lois attended the Philadelphia High
School for Girls where she excelled at her studies, made strong friendships, and played basketball. She went to
dances in dresses that she made herself copied from fashionable styles, wearing flats if the boys were shorter
than she was. She loved white gardenia corsages and later, the big yellows mums that she wore when she
went to cheer on her brother John at the University of Pennsylvania Penn Relays and University of Pittsburgh’s
Track and Field meets.
After graduating from high school, she attended State Teacher’s College at West Chester, Pennsylvania,
graduating in 1945 with her BS degree. She pledged the Delta Sigma Theta sorority in 1944. High school
friendships expanded to include sorors—treasured connections that she would keep throughout her life.
Lois was also a Girl scout Leader, a Sunday School teacher at the Mt Carmel Baptist Church and a Junior
Service Leaguer.
Prior to WWII, Lois remembered trips to the Roseland Ballroom in New York City with her brothers, sister, and
friends to dance the night away. During the war she and her friends would go to the USO clubs to dance with
the soldiers. With John Jr in the Navy stationed overseas and later with Edward in the Army, stationed down South during the Korean War, taking a cue from her mother, Lois began a practice of letter writing-- cheerful letters that shared news about family and friends and assured them that all was well at home. (Keeping ties through letters and cards was important to her. She loved giving and receiving pretty cards and recorded
every birthday, births and other occasions in her address book to make sure that she sent a card, even joining the Hallmark club later in life.)
From time to time, Lois worked with her mother Gladys on Avon promotional events. Gladys, who had started to work as an Avon representative to help put her children through college, eventually worked her way up to
the position of regional manager— the first and only African American executive in the company at that time.
Lois always talked about seeing the dining room table filled with Avon orders before Christmas that necessitated the postponement of the family celebration until deliveries were made.
It is from their mother that the girls learned poise, style, grace, strength, and generosity. They also all appreciated a good hat, a tasteful diamond or two, (though costume jewelry was just as fun), real pearls, and a
mink stole and coat. The girls would often share clothes with their mother and each other, particularly later in life. As soon as they were able, however, their mother insisted that they work to get these luxuries for themselves—no need to marry for them!

Lois continued her studies, graduating in 1948 from the University of Pennsylvania with a MS degree in Elementary education. Her employment with the School District of Philadelphia began on July 1 st 1947, with a
salary of $2800 a month, prior to certification in 1948.
In the early 1950’s Lois travelled to the Tuskegee Institute (University), Tuskegee, AL to take summer courses.
There she met Edward Charles Arthur, who was attending the College of Veterinary Medicine. Lois and Edward married in Philadelphia, May 26 th 1951.
Lois had been adamant that there be lots and lots of yellow flowers, (her favorite color), and that yellow canaries be released at the end of the ceremony!
Her brothers and sister would often tease that they never married because of the stress and lavishness of that day!
In January 1952 she took maternity-leave from teaching and her son Edward Charles Jr was born April 4 th 1952. Named for Edward he was given the nickname Chip, as in “chip off the old block.”
She took her second leave in February 1959 for the birth of her daughter, Loyce, on May 18 th on her birthday.
Lois’ father pronounced “Lois” as “Loyce” so she changed the spelling for her daughter’s name.
When Loyce was 3 months old the family travelled to Grenada. Edward Sr came to a decision-- After 7 years of working in a meat processing plant in the States, Edward felt called to return to the place of his birth to work
there since the island had no veterinarians. Lois officially resigned from Philadelphia School system in December 1961 and the move became permanent.
Lois spent a few years in her new island home settling into a house in the hills and then into an apartment on the 2 nd floor of the government house provided to the family. Edward’s veterinary practice office and surgery
were located on the first floor. Lois planted pointsettias and hibiscus on the stairs and landing between floors and fresh flowers were always around the home, a decorative practice that she enjoyed throughout her life.
Every Saturday the family went to the beach in the late afternoon, staying to watch the sunset. Sundays were also beach days, before the 1pm midday meal, the largest meal of the day. Lois occasionally took a walk on the
beach but mostly stayed in her beach chair, under a broad-brimmed but stylish hat. Sometimes she put a toe in the water but was not interested in swimming. Edward had tried to teach her how to swim but quickly gave
it up because Lois made such a racket that he was afraid people would think he was trying to drown her! That was the family story at any rate.!
Edward had much better luck with his children, who both learned to swim like fish.
Lois’ sister Gladys made several trips to the island, joining her on a beach lounger. She had a greater aversion to sand, sun, and water than her sister, but also donned a stylish hat.
Once a year Lois sewed costumes for her children so they could take part in Carnival parades. Most memorable were the pirate and Roman soldier costumes for Chip and the Sugar Plum fairy costume for Loyce,
that, won a prize—a jar of Ovaltine!
Lois also loved to throw theme birthday parties—a G.I Joe party and a racing car party for Chip and a nursery rhymes and a doll party complete with a doll tea for Loyce.

Every few weeks Lois and her mother exchanged a new set of cheery letters, that always ended with Gladys signing off with, “kiss the children for me!”
As December rolled around large cardboard boxes from her mother Gladys arrived on a ship with presents and other goodies that transformed the apartment living room into a Christmas wonderland. On Christmas Eve Lois would read T’was the Night Before Christmas to the children and A Christmas Carol to
herself. She loved the ending lines, “Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them…His own heart laughed, and that was quite enough for him…and it was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!” (Lois loved the Alistair Sim film version the best of all the rest—Sim trying to stand on
his head always got a laugh out of her!)
There were trips back to Philadelphia, with a memorable one when baby Loyce saw her first snow. Edward and Lois also traveled to Europe, leaving Loyce and Chip with their grandparents. The children made up for lost
time watching TV and playing on the same block and in the same back yard as their aunt an uncles once did.
The couple also traveled around the West Indies and Venezuela. Lois started collecting dolls in culturally traditional dress from any country they visited that became a considerable collection that Loyce added to when she began her own travels.
Lois’ greatest challenge in Grenada was the hurricane that descended one Winter. The family sat huddled together in candlelight that flickered wildly behind boarded up windows as the wind howled and battered the house. Lois never allowed her fear to show and all was well in the end, but it was a day and night that were hard to forget.
Lois did not leave her teaching career behind. In 1963 she helped to establish the Westmoreland School in Grenada to help prepare West Indian and foreign students for an easier transition to American colleges, since this new school followed a grade rather than the British form system. During her time there she served as
headmistress of the Kindergarten Nursery section and trained and supervised the teaching staff, a position she held until 1969.
Sadly, in 1969, Edward, her husband, contracted Parkinson’s disease and the family moved back to Philadelphia and Frazier Street, to a home across the street from the Wilsons.
Lois joined the staff of the Mann School in Philadelphia as an Elementary Grade Teacher, a position she held until her retirement in 1995.
During this time, she also worked for 11 years as a Checkpoint teacher; as a head teacher at the Heston Summer School Reading Center; as a grade leader on the school’s planning committees; as a Cooperative
teacher; as an Observation teacher; and as a member of the District Four Instructional Resource team. In 1975 she attended Temple University in Philadelphia for the Plus 30 Credits Program in Educational Administration.
Lois was also school chairman of the United Negro College fund and an Urban League volunteer.
Edward Sr, her husband, lost his battle with Parkinson disease in 1978. Lois was comforted by the close proximity of the Wilson family.
She worked hard to support her children and to ensure that they would be able to attend college. Her son Ed was granted a BS degree from Drexel University and went on to work for the Chrysler organization. Her daughter Loyce was granted a BA at the University of Pennsylvania and a MFA from New York University,
going on to work as a professional costume designer for the theatre and to teach at SUNY Stony Brook and the University of Iowa.
Lois instilled in her children a love of learning, a spirit of independence, and a sense they could be whatever they wanted to be with hard work and focus. She was extremely proud of them both. As her parents aged, Lois was there to help take care of them. The close-knit Wilson family, John Sr., Gladys, Ed Vernon, John Jr., and Gladys (the younger) lived together at 1311 N Frazier Street, on and off, their whole
lives taking care of one another, “like the Kennedys,” or so the family story goes. Lois lived across the street and gradually, one dinner ever-so-often, became dinner every night.
Lois’ son Ed Jr, (Chip), married Diane Washington September 1988 in a wonderful celebration that brought family and friends together.
This celebration was one of many including Thanksgivings and Christmases where the family gathered together around a table set with fine china, candles, fresh flower arrangements, crystal, and sterling silver—just the way her mother Gladys liked it.
Lois loved these special times too and the annual tradition that started with three generations of women setting the table the night before, family and friends adding special dishes to the feast, her father always
cooking the turkey, and ended with everyone sitting down together to a sumptuous meal-- from appetizers to pie and cake for dessert.
An equally grand celebration was held when John Sr. turned 100 years old, a “century man,” since he was born in 1900. After their mother and father died Lois and Gladys continued the tradition of setting elegant Thanksgiving and Christmas tables, around which the family gathered every holiday.
Lois continued to travel before and after retirement with sister Gladys, friends and eventually, with daughter
Loyce to California, Hawaii, Boston, Las Vegas, New York City, the Catskills, Mt Washington, New Hampshire,
Alaska, the Poconos, Atlanta, and Atlantic City New Jersey as well as Canada, Mexico, Thailand, China, Norway, Denmark, Australia, and New Zealand.
Lois also remained invested in working to keep Frazier street and the surrounding neighborhood a nice place
to live for children and families. She was secretary and organizer of children’s activities and cleanup days for the Frazier Street Block Club and expanded her efforts to the nearby Carroll Park gardening and maintenance
committee.
After she retired from teaching in 1998, she kept close ties with her teaching colleagues and friends through a monthly breakfast and lunch “club.” They laughed a lot, sought out new places to eat and experience, took trips to see the Autumn leaves, and swapped cheesy romance paperbacks with one another.
Lois also thoroughly enjoyed attending classical and sometimes classic soul music concerts in Fairmount park at the Robin Hood Dell and at the Academy of Music.
The death of her brother John Jr in 2000 and her sister Gladys in 2015 were moments of great sorrow.

In 2017, after the death of her brother Edward, Lois move to Iowa to live with her daughter Loyce. She enjoyed car trips to Chicago and Minneapolis and the idea of a “stay-cation” which, to her, meant staying in a
comfortable bed in a hotel with a view and enjoying room service.
Though she used to describe herself as a city girl, she quickly grew to love the wide-open spaces and blue skies in Iowa, the silly antics of the birds, especially hummingbirds that came to the feeders, and reading or dosing in the sunshine in her favorite chair. Fresh cut flowers, a few pieces of chocolate every other day, donning
herself with strings of Madi Gras beads for the fun of it, watching the TV show Mike and Molly or Keeping Up Appearances, and champagne on New Year’s Eve were little things that gave her joy.
Lois died on January 13 th , 2021 with her son Ed and her daughter Loyce by her side. We will miss her greatly while we hold forever the love that she had for us.
In lieu of food or flowers please send a donation to https://phillykids.org/programs/library-
support/. We feel that Mom, who was a teacher for 60 years, would have liked the work of this
foundation and their library project very much.

To send flowers in memory of Lois Arthur, visit the Tribute Store.

Cemetery Details

Location

West Laurel Hill Cemetery Final Resting Place

225 Belmont Avenue
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004

225 Belmont Avenue Bala Cynwyd 19004 PA
United States
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