NORMALLY, Philadelphia prison corrections officers don't see a lot of hope for the inmates they encounter in their line of work.
But Ardella Devore was assigned to a facility that nurtured hope. The Alternative and Special Detention area (ASD) houses work-release programs designed to help inmates find their way back into society.
"She loved it," said her daughter, Sonya Devore. "She loved helping the prisoners put their lives back together.
"She was a bighearted, caring and giving person, very strong."
Ardella J. Devore, a Philadelphia corrections officer for 15 years, a woman who was devoted to her family and enjoyed feeding them with her special culinary skills, died Tuesday of an asthma attack. She was 68 and lived in Overbrook Farms.
She retired from the prison system in 2006.
Ardella suffered from asthma most of her life, but didn't let it deter her from a fulfilling career.
"She made the best of it," her daughter said. "She did what she had to do."
Ardella was born in Philadelphia to George and Louise White. She graduated from Overbrook High School.
She became a corrections officer in September 1991 at the old Holmesburg Prison. After it closed in 1995, she transferred to the House of Corrections before moving to ASD on State Road.
ASD has a number of programs to help minimum-security inmates return to the community. Its purpose is to reduce recidivism by teaching inmates skills and placing them in the workforce.
"She really loved seeing people making progress," said her daughter, a retired sheriff's deputy.
However, Ardella was no pushover. "She spoke her mind," Sonya said. "She let you know how you were doing. She gave it to you, whether you liked it or not."
Ardella married John Wesley Devore, a retired city sanitation worker, on Nov. 19, 1967.
Ardella was an outstanding cook who enjoyed feeding her family. A dinner of fried pork chops, mashed potatoes and peas was a special delight.
For fun, Ardella enjoyed playing cards with friends, and risking a few bucks on the lottery.
Besides her husband and daughter, she is survived by a son, John D. Devore, a retired Philadelphia police officer, and three sisters, Rita Avant, Diane White and Deirdre White.