HAVING A cross burned on your front lawn by angry segregationists when you were a vulnerable child would have to mark you in some way. But if she was scarred by the experience, Iciephene Parks Porter never let on.
The family might have gotten a hint of how the experience affected her by the fact that she waited until her sons were adults before she told them about how bigots resented her father breaking a racial barrier. That and her determination never to go to the South again.
Iciephene (she was named after an aunt) Porter, a pharmacist whose greater accomplishment in her mind was raising four sturdy sons, a devoted churchwoman and talented cook, died Dec. 19. She was 89 and lived in Mount Airy.
"She raised her children in a very mixed neighborhood in Mount Airy," said her son Kevin, an associate pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Germantown. "We never experienced any racial animus. There was never any barrier to what was possible for us."
Which was good, because Iciephene was big on education. That, and the need to simply be a good person.
"She was strong on the importance of good character and good education," her son said.
Iciephene was born in High Point, N.C., to Carson and Rhoberta Parks. Her father became the object of the wrath of segregationists by becoming the first black truck driver for a furniture company in High Point.
You didn't do that in the Jim Crow South at the time.
Iciephene was educated in the public schools in High Point and went on to Bennett College, in Greensboro, N.C., where she received a bachelor's degree in education.
She earned a degree in pharmacy from Howard University, in Washington, D.C., in 1951.
While in her final year at Howard, she won the Mortar and Pestle Award, becoming the first woman to receive the academic honor.
Iciephene met her husband, Alfonso F. Porter, in pharmacy school. He went on to run a drugstore at 22nd and Diamond streets, while she became a pharmacist at the old Philadelphia General Hospital.
She left PGH in 1964 to devote herself to her family. She occasionally helped out at her husband's pharmacy, which he ran from 1962 to 1982.
Iciephene was devoted to keeping her extended family together. When some cousins lost their mother, she organized and paid for a repast after the funeral at a Philadelphia restaurant. She considered it important that the family unite on such an occasion.
She was an active member of New Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Germantown, where she was a member of the Stewardess Board and the Missionary Board.
Iciephene was an outstanding cook who enjoyed preparing elaborate meals for holidays, giving her the chance to bring her family together.
She was famous for her rolls, but everything she prepared was outstanding.
"She didn't eat until everyone else had eaten," her son said. "She was a homebody more than anything else. She was very quiet and unassuming."
She was a devoted reader of newspapers and magazines and liked to keep up with what was going on in the world.
Besides her son and husband, she is survived by three other sons, Stephen, Gregory and Ronald; six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.