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Bessie L. Williams, 80, West Philadelphia neighborhood icon.

She was always ready to help anyone who needed her.wb

Bessie L. Williams
Bessie L. WilliamsRead more

WHENEVER THERE was something going on in the Lansdowne Avenue neighborhood of West Philadelphia, you could be sure Miss Bessie would be there.

Bessie L. Williams was always part of that close-knit neighborhood where it's been a long tradition for everyone to help and support one another.

"She was beloved by all," said Jean Waites-Howard, evangelist, teacher and longtime resident of the neighborhood.

"We often rallied around for various events, prom send-offs, cookouts, etc. We are committed to each other.

"Miss Bessie was always in the center of events. She was a bridge. She will be missed by family and our community circle."

Bessie died Nov. 28 at age 80.

"Bessie was an active member in the community, where she assisted in the nurturing and development of many of the city's youths," said her daughter Judy Gibson. "Family and friends were Bessie's passion and delight.

"She loved and helped everyone unconditionally."

Bessie was born in Asheville, N.C., to William Kibler and Ollie Wiley. The family came to Philadelphia when she was a child and she graduated from Bok Vocational High School.

Bessie worked for a time for the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, but she was basically a homemaker.

"Her true and lasting profession was that of a loving wife and mother to all," her daughter said.

She and her late sister, Barbara Kibler, were very close. They loved to visit New York City and New Jersey together in the summer.

"She and Barbara were inseparable, enjoying the greatest part of their lives exploring the Atlantic shores," her daughter said.

Bessie was married to the late Willie Williams.

She was a member of the Open Door Church of All Faith, where she was a member of the choir and prepared all the church meals.

She was an excellent cook and liked nothing better than preparing food for large family gatherings.

Besides her daughter, she is survived by a son, Daniel Williams; two brothers, William Kibler Jr. and Gilford Kibler; eight grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by two daughters, Lenora Williams and Lorraine Easter.

Services: 11 a.m. today at the Wood Funeral Home, 56th Street and Girard Avenue. Friends may call at 10 a.m. Burial will be in Westminster Cemetery.