By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Anne Garrott was best known for her advocacy with the Southwest-Belmont YWCA, in Southwest Philadelphia.
Garrott died August 12th in Newtown (Bucks County), Pa., leaving a sixty-plus year legacy of community that will live on for years to come. She was 98 years old.
“She was a Christian woman and she wanted African-American women to have equal opportunity and equal access,” says Barbara Daniel Cox, who spent decades working with Garrott in various capacities.
The life of Anne Garrott was celebrated on August 22nd at a service at Tindley Temple United Methodist Church in South Philadelphia.
Cox says Garrott grew up in Philadelphia, was an avid swimmer, a mentor to many, and a leader in a number of prominent women’s organizations. But Cox says she had a special place in her heart for the Southwest-Belmont YWCA, at 16th and Catharine Streets.
“She grew up in the Y, and she was active in the Y movement,” says Cox, who notes that Garrott worked nationally and internationally in the YWCA movement and worked in various YWCAs, including as executive director of the Southwest-Belmont branch.
“She was the strongest lifelong advocate for the Southwest-Belmont Community Association, which was the first black women’s organization that was a member of the YWCA,” says Cox, “it is part of our legacy and she wanted to keep it alive.”
Her friends say she was not afraid to call on others for help. William Tucker, husband to the late politician and activist C. Delores Tucker, got the call in the 1990s. He says he helped Garrott raise $100,000 to save the center from bankruptcy.
“She was a very caring, sharing, and concerned woman who was always working for the interests of the community,” Tucker says of Garrott. “She was the epitome of class.”
And an example of hard work.
“She was always asking, ‘How are things in South Philly?’ recalls Linda Watson, who says Garrott was her “play mom.”
“She just touched everybody with the love and understanding that she had. She would always ask, ‘What good did you do in the world today?’ ”
Watson says Garrott did not have childen of her own but loved her husband, James, until his death. And, Watson adds, Garrott dedicated her life to bettering the lives and circumstances of women and girls.
When the Southwest-Belmont Community Association made the difficult decision to sell its building a few years ago, the association’s board used the funds to create the Anne Garrott Endowment Fund.
“With the money from the building we’ve been able to do so much for the community,” says Watson. “I’m just glad we did that while she was living. Now she will live on.”
Watson says the fund has given scholarships to the Links, Delta Signma Theta, Alpha Kappa Alpha, the Continentals and to Belmont Mansion.
Robyn Younger, of the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, says Garrott inspired her and many others.
“She instilled in all of us a sense that those of us who can, must,” says Younger, who notes that Garrott was a charter member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Pennsylvania chapter. “She delivered the charge to me when I joined about what it means to be an advocate, what it means to be a leader.”
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