The embers of the fire that claimed Virginia Stevenson's life Tuesday at her Brewerytown home had barely burned out when the developers started coming around Wednesday morning, asking about the property.

"We ain't selling," said Stevenson's daughter, Rene Williams. "We're keeping it in the family. That's the one thing we're going to do."

For about 70 years, Stevenson was deeply connected with the house on narrow North Hollywood Street, where she was raised by her parents and where she then raised her own four children.

She was there in the '80s - when every house was full and every family had kids - until this week, when more than half of the houses on the block sit vacant.

Lovingly known as "Miss Sis," Stevenson, 80, was a part of her neighborhood's DNA, and had the photos and memories to prove it.

"For my entire generation, Miss Sis was a second mother," said Desmond Anthony, 39, who grew up on the block. "When I'm telling you she was a staple, there was nothing that anyone in my generation did that she didn't know about."

After Stevenson's husband passed away, she remained in the home with her mother, who died two years ago at the age of 96.

The women were an unofficial but well-respected crime-fighting duo who kicked drug dealers off the corner, said neighbors.

"They were like Batman and Robin," Anthony said. "It could have been World War III going on and everybody in this neighborhood would have stopped what they were doing when those ladies walked through."

Tuesday morning, Stevenson's youngest son had a heart attack at age 43, so she spent much of the day by his side at Hahnemann University Hospital.

In the late afternoon, her eldest child, Milton, drove his mother home. When he dropped her off around 4:30 p.m., he asked - as he always did - if she would be OK.

"She said she would be all right and she was just going to sit in her favorite chair and watch TV," said Milton Stevenson, 58. "I said 'OK, I'll see you later.' And as always, I said 'I love you.' "

At 7:22 p.m., firefighters responded to Stevenson's house and battled a blaze there for 12 minutes before finding her dead on the first floor.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation but the family said initial indications are that it may have been electrical.

Stevenson's next-door neighbor, Diane Clark, said the smoke came through her walls, leading her to believe her house was on fire. Clark got her own elderly mother out of their home before realizing the fire was next door.

Clark, 55, broke Stevenson's front window to see if she was inside and asked some boys to help.

"But it was too much smoke, nobody could get in," she said.

As Stevenson's family and neighbors gathered at her house Wednesday to sift through the ashes and share decades worth of memories, there were more smiles than tears as they recounted stories about the woman who was everybody's second mother and four lucky adults' real mother.

"When you can look back on a life and still smile, that's something," said Milton Stevenson.