A Southwest Philadelphia Icon was laid to rest on Saturday, February 8, 2019, after closing her eyes on February 3, 2020. Ms. Lola Francis was the 9th of 11 siblings, all who preceded her in death. She grasped the concepts and fundamentals of Christianity and the adornment of the church as a child in North Carolina. Upon graduation from high school, Ms. Lola went on to attend Fayetteville Teachers College, now known as Fayetteville State University. After graduation, she returned to her small home town and taught in a one-room wooden schoolhouse. Many students and families remember her as a teacher at Longstreth Elementary School at 57th & Willows Avenue for many years.
While in college she met the love of her life, James Francis. From their union, seven children were born. Looking for a better life, they moved north to New York City and after a short while, they moved to South Philadelphia. In 1958, she joined the Wayland Memorial Baptist Church where she was a faithful devoted member until her death. Her family was the first Black family to join the church. In the late 1960’s Ms. Lola participated as much as possible in supporting the cause against social and civil injustice. Upon moving to 58th Street in the early 1960s her house was mysteriously firebombed. Being one of the first Black families to live on the Southside of Baltimore Avenue, she received threats to force her to move, but she did not succumb to the threats, even though she feared for her family during this period of great racial tension between whites and blacks. Ms. Francis would have been 100 years old on February 29, 2020. “God wanted her to celebrate that milestone somewhere else!”