VICTORIA LEAVY never left the house without being stylishly dressed, from her signature hat down, all perfectly matched.
And, oh, yes, every hair in place.
In fact, when Victoria lived in the Saunders House retirement home in Wynnewood, she was without a doubt the best-dressed resident, bar none.
"I used to visit her there and make sure she had all she needed to be perfectly dressed," said her daughter, the Rev. Dr. Lorina Marshall Blake. "She was a real cover girl."
Victoria Elizabeth Leavy, a child-care worker, active Baptist churchwoman and a devoted family matriarch, died Monday. She was 87 and formerly lived in West Philadelphia.
"Victoria loved the little children," her family said. "Yes, all the little children."
While she dropped out of Overbrook High School after the 10th grade, Victoria had a passion for education. After raising her own children, she enrolled in the Center for Intergenerational Learning Institute on Aging at Temple University, where she completed a comprehensive program in child care.
She became a child-care worker with the pre-schoolers at Children's Village Day Care Center on North 8th Street, a classroom aide for the School District of Philadelphia, and the Caring Center, which provides early educaton for children on Spring Garden Street.
But her greatest love was the children at the J&H Day Care Center at 59th and Spruce streets, and the little people from the Sunday School of her church, Vine Memorial Baptist.
"She was fondly referred to as 'Miss Vicky,' " her family said.
Victoria was a passionate Baptist. "One of her greatest loves was singing with the Inspirational Chorus of the Vine Memorial Baptist Church," her family said. "Mom, who was once a rather conservtive praiser, evolved into a hand-clapping, foot-stomping praiser, who sang with enthusiasm such songs as I Just Want To Praise Him Forever and Ever:
For all you've done, done for me.
Blessings and glory and honor,
They all belong to you.
She joined Vine Memorial on Easter Sunday 1979, and was an active member of Missionary Circle No. 4, a Sunday School and Vacation Bible School teacher, and member of the Women's Ministry.
She was honored in June by the church Missionary Ministry for her many years of service.
Victoria was also an active member of the Haddington Adult Service Center at 53rd Street and Haverford Avenue, where she sang on the choir, did chair-dancing exercises, and participated in arts and crafts.
She was born in Philadelphia, one of the six children of Thomas Barrington Lawrence and the former Alberta Marie Brooks. She was married for over 45 years to the late Richard Leavy.
Although her own formal education was aborted, Victoria insisted that her five children be educated. All finished high school and three went on to higher education.
"She believed that education is the key," her family said. "And, if you could read, you could do and be anything you wanted to be.
"She always put her family first and herself second. She never missed their childhood programs, assemblies, plays, award ceremonies and graduation."
Victoria was also a skilled seamstress and made matching outfits for her daughters and herself.
Besides her daughter, Lorina, who is associate pastor of Vine Memorial, she is survived by another daughter, Patricia Evans; two sons, David Leavy and James Richardson; a sister, Annette Blount; 15 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by another son, Stanley Leavy.
Services: 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, at Vine Memorial Baptist Church, 5600 W. Girard Ave. Friends may call at 8 a.m. Burial will be in Rolling Green Memorial Park, West Chester.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the scholarship program of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, 1926 Foundation, P.O. Box 41822, Philadelphia 19101, or the Alzheimer's Association, 399 Market St., Philadelphia 19106.