Gladys Kinard Hernblad, 77, of Northern Liberties, an educator, author, and advocate for interracial understanding, died of heart failure July 27 at Penn Hospice at Rittenhouse.
Mrs. Hernblad grew up in Saluda, S.C. Encouraged by her mother, Sudie, she walked six miles each way to high school, and after graduation moved to Philadelphia in search of better educational and employment opportunities.
She met Robert Hernblad at a gathering for young adults at a fellowship house in North Philadelphia. He was white, of Swedish and Irish descent. She was African American. They married in 1966, one year before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down bans on interracial marriage in all states.
In 1992, Mrs. Hernblad established the Interracial Families United Network. She told a reporter at the time that she and her husband had experienced discrimination in the early years of their marriage. "We had no support for our situation," she said. The new network, she said, would support, "all interracial marriages - Asian, Hispanic, and African American."
Mrs. Hernblad earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971 and was a substitute teacher in Philadelphia public schools. For several years she put her career on hold to tend to her two children, especially her daughter, who lost her hearing when she was 5. Mrs. Hernblad served as president of the PTA at Bodine High School for International Affairs in Philadelphia.
After earning a master's degree in education and a certificate in counseling from Antioch University in Philadelphia in 1987, Mrs. Hernblad was a counselor in public schools in Philadelphia before becoming an author.
In 1995, she published a children's book, Harriet Tubman's Famous Christmas Eve Raid. Five years later, she published Harriet Tubman Rising.
Mrs. Hernblad was an active member of the Friends Meeting on Arch Street in Old City and helped raise more than $80,000 for repairs to the Friends Neighborhood Guild, a community center in Northern Liberties.
She and her husband traveled to Bermuda and Europe and visited their son in Japan in 1997. The couple made three trips by train across the United States and built a second home in Saluda, S.C., on land she inherited from her mother.
Mrs. Hernblad was a major supporter of President Obama, not only for his political views, but because his biracial background mirrored her family's, which she considered a symbol of improving race relations in America, said her daughter, Kirsten Poston.
In addition to her husband and daughter, Mrs. Hernblad is survived by a son, Konrad; a sister; and a brother.
The funeral was Saturday at New Salem Church in Saluda. Burial was in the church cemetery.
A memorial will be held at the Friends Meetinghouse, 320 Arch St., Philadelphia, at a future date. For information, friends may e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.