Nellie Mae White Washington, 106, of Philadelphia, a nurse and longtime caregiver to friends and family, died Friday, Nov. 30, of a stroke at Stapeley in Germantown, a retirement facility.
She lived in West Philadelphia and West Oak Lane before moving in 1998 to Stapeley.
Mrs. Washington trained to become a nurse and worked professionally in that role for a decade. After retiring, she opened her home to her two grandchildren and her heart to friends whom she nursed through illnesses at her house.
She had a quick wit, said a granddaughter, Sylvia Washington Wright.
Asked about the key to Mrs. Washington's long life, Wright said her grandmother always wanted to reach 100. When she got there, Wright said, "she said she was scared of dying" and so kept right on living.
Mrs. Washington received her early education at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament School at Broad and Brown Streets.
She entered Philadelphia High School for Girls in the early 1920s, when African Americans were rarely seen in the halls of a prestigious public high school, Wright said.
Mrs. Washington enrolled in the James Martin School of Practical Nursing in Philadelphia, receiving her license in 1952.
She worked for five years as a medical-surgical nurse at Hahnemann Hospital, then switched to private duty. Mrs. Washington officially retired from nursing in 1962 but continued caregiving.
She met Frank Washington at church, and the two married in 1925. He died in 1992. They had two children, Nellie Irene and Frank Jr. Both preceded her in death.
In addition to her granddaughter, Mrs. Washington raised a grandson, Sabir Hameen, also known as Barry Washington, and a great-grandson, Keith Wright.
Also surviving are three other grandchildren, 10 other great-grandchildren, and 16 great-great-grandchildren.
A 9:30 a.m. viewing will be followed by a 10:30 a.m. Funeral Mass on Friday, Dec. 7, at St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church, 1940 E. Chelten Ave., Philadelphia 19141. Burial will be in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Cheltenham.
Donations may be made to the church.