SOME OF THE women patients of the Diagnostic and Rehabilitation Center in Philadelphia couldn't figure out what Flora Wilson was doing there.

It was obvious that she knew her job as a senior residential aide at the drug-and-alcohol-treatment facility, but she was not a recovering addict, so how could she know what the women had gone through?

However, it also had to have been obvious to the women that even though Flora had not experienced drug addiction and its horrors - as many of the center's counselors had - she had a natural empathy for those who had.

Flora Ruth Wilson, who previously worked with seniors at a nursing home in Germantown and taught all who knew her about courage after she lost a leg to artery disease, died Nov. 18 of respiratory complications. She was 81 and was living in Stockton, Calif., and previously had lived in North Philadelphia.

Flora was 70 when she received an associate's degree from Northern Virginia Community College in Woodbridge, Va., where she lived for a time, and was planning to go back to school to earn a bachelor's degree before her health failed.

She later took courses at San Joaquin Delta College, in Stockton, and volunteered at the University of the Pacific's Office of Services for Students with Disabilities.

Flora was born in Philadelphia, one of the 13 children of James Julius Wilson and Dorothy Trammell. She graduated from Bok Vocational High School.

She went to work for Germantown Home, a nursing facility, as a home health aide. She was there for a few years before she moved on to the Diagnostic and Rehabilitation Center, working in the women's section.

She had to leave when artery disease forced her to lose her leg. She moved to Woodbridge, then to Stockton.

"She was really strong, spirited and strong-willed," said her daughter, Lisa Marie Cooper. "She was a straight-shooter. She would tell you the way it was, but she had a good sense of humor."

Besides her daughter, she is survived by three sons, Sidney Wilson, Gerald Thomas Wilson Sr. and Jeffrey Trice Wilson; three sisters, Marie, Barbara and Jackie; a brother, Michael; 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by another son, Gregory Wilson.

Services: Were Dec. 12 in Stockton.

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