On November 29, 1933, Marlene Norman was born. She was the first-born child to Ernest Norman and Charlotte Washington, a union which also gave life to her siblings, Ernest, Jr. and Delores Norman-Crippen.
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Marlene appeared to be a special child from the beginning. She accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior at the age of twelve, which began a life of service and devotion. She did everything in the name of her Lord until she closed her eyes and departed this life on Monday, July 21, 2019 at the age of eighty-five.
Marlene received her primary education through the Accomack County Public School system. After graduating high school at the age of seventeen, she embarked on a journey that began with heading North to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in search of employment and a better life. Holding onto the wisdom of her grandmother, Hester Washington, who told her that “each generation should do better than the previous one,” she often imparted this wisdom to her own children.
She began her work history as a Candy Striper, a nurse’s aide, at Philadelphia General Hospital, establishing a work history that would eventually lead to furthering her education and establishing a career as a Social Worker for the City of Philadelphia.
Marlene was never afraid of hard work and before she decided to go to the Community College of Philadelphia to get an Associate’s Degree, she worked at Somerset Knitting Mills doing piece work in a garment factory. This work, though hard and tiring, fueled her ambition to do better for herself and her family. All of her children remember gluing tickets to paper to count the pennies she received for each piece sown. Even then, she showed ambition and thrift, wasting nothing. She would always say “if you have pennies, you have to save pennies, when you have dollars you can save dollars.” After landing her first position with the City of Philadelphia as a Police Dispatcher, she started on her education first at Manna Bible Institute, then getting an Associate’s Degree from The Community College of Philadelphia. She then pursued a Bachelor’s Degree from Temple University to become an English teacher, a career she embarked upon for a short period of time. However, when an opportunity was presented to take the Civil Service test to become a Social Worker for the City of Philadelphia, Marlene took and passed the test starting her career as a Case Manager in Adult Services, serving the less fortunate and the truly underserved. She later went on to obtain a Master’s Degree in Social Work. At every level of her educational attainment, she finished her degrees with highest honors, Magna Cum Laude.
Even though she had three sons and a sick husband, Marlene believed there was a difference between church work and the “work of the church.” She lived what she believed; visiting the sick, giving to charity, doing service within her church home and congregation, often teaching Sunday School, working to serve the homeless, and serving those in her congregation who were in need.
Marlene lived an exemplary life, because she knew and would say that “she had a boss in heaven that she was accountable to.” She lived righteously and made every effort to live holy. She never neglected any aspect of her life. She kept an excellent home, remained faithful to her husband of forty-five years, Gilbert Wilkerson, whom she married in 1952, and preceded her in death twenty-three years ago. She raised three sons, who later endeavored to meet any need she had, repaying her for her commitment to their well-being and success.
Marlene believed in excellence, just OK was not good enough. She was dedicated, sincere, and combined faith and work together. She was never afraid of difficulties, as she approached life the way she approached her end of days, with faith and grace. She has inherited the promise of eternal life, where a crown of righteousness awaits her.
Marlene is survived by her sister, Delores Norman Crippen(Hursel); three sons, Kevin, Gary, and Rodney Wilkerson; a daughter-in-law, Janet Wilkerson; four grandchildren, Jared, Seth, Joshua, and Erin; two great-grandchildren, Reid and Logan; nieces and nephews, Milton, Barbara, Vanessa, Rhonda, Steven, Kendall, Kendall, Ched, Tiffany, Brandon, and Chantel; and a host of great-nieces, great-nephews, other relatives, and friends.
The family, it’s roots and branches extend to many cousins, who are too numerous to name, but whom she touched and affected with her love and faithfulness.
Thank you Mom.