Daisy Carter, 90, a longtime Philadelphia resident, who worked for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department for more than 30 years, died April 20 from complications of a stroke, at Treasure Coast Hospice in Stuart, Fla.
Ms. Carter was certified as a therapeutic recreation specialist by the National Recreation & Parks Association and also by the Pennsylvania Recreation and Parks Society.
Over the years, Ms. Carter worked at several recreation centers and became a director and developer of programs for autistic children and other children with special needs and for older adults and teens, said her daughter, Marilyn Kai Jewett.
She “enjoyed making a difference in the lives of teens, especially those in gangs, which were prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s,” Jewett said.
She also loved working with the elderly and was a senior citizen program supervisor at the East Germantown Recreation Center, now known as the Lonnie Young Rec Center.
She directed a Saturday program for autistic children at Connie Mack Recreation Center (now, Cecil B. Moore) for several years. And she was assistant camp director and drama specialist at the Kenniston Summer Day Camp for the autistic.
She was a member of the National Recreation & Parks Association and was a founding member of the NRPA’s Ethnic Minority Society. She received many awards over the years for outstanding service.
She was also very involved as an alumni of Temple University, to which she returned and graduated from in the 1980s. She completed her own college education after her daughter graduated from college in 1975. Ms. Carter also attended St. Joseph’s University School of Social Work.
She was a member of Temple ‘s General Alumni Board and the NCAA Certification Steering Committee for Intercollegiate Athletics.
She was a member of the advisory committee to then-Temple President Peter Liacouras, and was an official and board member of Temple’s Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Alumni Association.
After her retirement from the city, she moved to her hometown in Florida.
Daisy Carter was born Oct. 17, 1931, in Stuart, Fla. She was the only child of Lottie Thompson and Robert Clarence Carter.
The Thompson family in Stuart was a prominent Black family that donated land to build the St. Paul A.M.E. Church there. When Mrs. Carter died, she was the last member of the founding family who was attending.
As a child, she attended the Stuart Training School, a segregated school for Black children.
Growing up, she spent several of her summers visiting her aunt, Pauline Able, in Philadelphia.
At age 16, Ms. Carter moved to North Philadelphia with her mother. She graduated from Kensington High School for Girls in 1949, and was one of only a few Black Americans at the school.
For many years, while raising her daughter, she worked as a cleaning person until she began working at the Athletic Recreation Center in the late 1960s. She went back to college later in life to become a recreation specialist.
Jewett said her mother had long developed a passion for her African heritage and culture, beginning in the 1940s, when she met students from Africa at Bethune Cookman College, when she was visiting relatives who lived in Daytona Beach.
“She considered herself an African born in America and didn’t accept being called a ‘Negro,’” her daughter recalled. “The most important thing she ever did was arming me with knowledge of my true identity. She was proud of being African, and so am I.”
Jewett said her mother was an honorary member of the Philadelphia African Student Council and helped them find host families through the United Church Women’s Hospitality Program.
She exposed her daughter to African culture, theater, festivals, and classical, folk, and jazz music.
She served as a member of the board of the Ile Ife Afro-American Dance Ensemble, founded by Arthur Hall.
And she was a member of the historic Mother Zoar African Methodist Church in Philadelphia.
When she retired to Florida, she became active as a volunteer and board member of Stuart’s Lyric Theater. She established a scholarship at the St. Paul A.M.E. Church and organized annual fund-raisers at the theater.
One year, Philadelphia’s Boyz II Men performed at a sold-out concert, to benefit the scholarship fund, which now bears her name.
In addition to her daughter, Ms. Carter is survived by a grandson and several cousins and other relatives.
A beachfront celebration of life and jazz reception is planned to be held on what would have been her 91st birthday, on Oct. 17, 2022, in Stuart, Fla.
In lieu of flowers, family requests donations be made to the St. Paul A.M.E. Daisy Carter / Costella Williams Scholarship Fund. For information on the fund, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.