Welcome to the
memorial page for
Alma Laura H. Penn
January 21, 1922
~ January 12, 2021
On January 12, 2021, Mrs. Alma Laura H. Penn RN, BS died peacefully at home secondary to cholangiocarcinoma of the biliary tree with metastatic disease to the liver. She was 98 years old.
Alma was born in Newark, NJ at the Wright Sanitorium, delivered by it's founder, Dr. Thomas Wright, the only hospital where African American doctors could practice and care for their patients in the state of New Jersey. Alma graduated from Red Bank High School on June 18, 1940 and went on to attend Freedman's School of Nursing at Howard University, Washington, DC, graduating in 1944 with her RN degree' from there she attended New York University, graduating in 1946 with a BS in Nursing.
Alma Laura married William Arthur Penn on July 19, 1952, after initially meeting on the Jersey Shore at the age of 12. Life unfolded and took a few turns, however, once they reunited as adults, their love blossomed and they welcomed their only daughter, Carol on Christmas Day, 1956. Infused with a sense of history and purpose shaped by her lived experience of being an African American child growing up in a segregated community, her days colored and shaped by color lines and caste, she poured her life into her community and her family. Mrs. Penn had a career in Nursing that spanned over 47 years, 44 of those years at Marlboro State Psychiatric Hospital where she became the first African American Director of Nursing in the state of New Jersey and went on to establish scholarships for those seeking to enter the profession of nursing. She became a founding member of The Monmouth County Business and Professional Women's Council, Inc. in 1950, where she served in several leadership roles but none more cherished than her role as Scholarship Chair, which she held until her death on January 12, 2021.
Quite a socialite, Mrs. Penn was a member of Les Femmes founded in 1959, a ladies social club, originally brought together, just for fun, the ladies soon turned their efforts to involve the community and conducted fund raising projects making donations to such organizations as Deborah Hospital, Fair Haven Council of Boy Scouts, MCOSS Sickle Cell Foundation and to the Red Bank Community Center Pre-School Program.
Mrs. Penn was predeceased by her parents George Harvey and Marion Josephine Gilmore Harvey, her brother Joseph Chesterfield Harvey, her loving husband William Arthur Penn Sr. all of Red Bank, NJ and her stepson, William Arthur Penn Jr. of Brooklyn, NY.
Mrs. Penn is survived by her daughter Dr. Carol Penn (Jones), m. Diem Jones of Red Bank, NJ; a grandson Keita O. Erskine of Chicago, IL; nieces Beverly Penn, Esq. of Philadelphia, PA; Marcia Penn of Aurora, CO, step grandsons Dr. Khalil Muhammad (m. Stephanie Muhammad) of East Orange, NJ; Dima Jones of Mountainview, CA; step grand-grandchildren Gibran, Jordan and Justice Muhammad; her beloved cousins who are truly more like siblings than cousins: Beverly Robinson, Ruth Wright (m. Al Wright), Stephanie Robinson, a host of cousins and friends too numerous to mention here but never out of her and our hearts.
One thought on “Alma Laura H. Penn -1-23-2021”
Yanni was one of my special moms, through my 35 year friendship with Carol, my witnessing the growth of Keita, and the birthing of Core of Fire. She was loyal and loving, and generous to a fault, and devoted to her family, friends, colleagues, and artists. I am blessed to have known and traveled with her, and will create a special dance in her honor.
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