On August 3, 2023, Esther Edwards-Beckham passed from this life. Esther was born in Philadelphia, PA on August 15, 1932, to the late James and Eunice Edwards.
The strength in which she dealt with the challenges of life came from her lineage tracing back to her great - grandmother, Nancy Winslow Robinson Childs, who she affectionately called "Grandma Chiles," her grandmother, Nancy Robinson Marshall, known as "Nanu," and her mother, Eunice Marshall Edwards Burton Dent.
The courage displayed throughout her earthly journey stemmed from her faith in God and belief that her brothers always had her back. Anyone who ever spent any time with her can attest to the many stories she told of her life as the only girl with seven brothers: Charles, Richard, James, Wilbert, Stanley, Melvin and Edgar.
Esther was proud of her beginnings in the section of Philadelphia known as "The Bottom" where she attended grade school at Martha Washington. Her family later relocated to the Elmwood community, where she graduated from John Bartram High School. Following high school, she continued her education by taking classes in journalism at Temple University.
True to her sign, Esther was a Leo. There was not a room that she could enter where she did not gravitate to the center. As the founder and director of the La Petite Modeling Guild she trained models and sponsored fashion shows throughout the City of Philadelphia during the 50's and 60's. She organized charm schools and debutante balls for young girls teaching them social etiquette and grace.
Esther loved to write. She was an editor with the Philadelphia Tribune newspaper where her penmanship found expression in her social commentary column "Lady Esther-at-Large." She also wrote for the Independent and Defender at a time when the Black community desperately needed voices on issues of social justice.
Esther was always a community activist. She opened her home and gave her possessions to anyone in need. She enjoyed interacting with her nieces and grandchildren. On any Saturday morning she could be found doing the hair or piercing the ears of girls in the neighborhood. She made everyone a "God child."
Her civic responsibility also found expression in her work life where at different times she worked in executive/administrative positions with OIC, Opportunities Industrialization Center, and PUSH, People United to Save Humanity. She even spent a year with OIC West in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In addition to raising a family, shepherding her brothers, modeling, writing, working for social justice and community organizing, Esther squeezed in managing the Showboat Theatre and Roundtable Lounge in Philadelphia at different times in her adult life.
Esther was a woman of Faith. She was a longtime member of Calvary Baptist Church, pastored by the late Reverend Emerson Talmadge. In her later years she attended Imani African Christian Church and Upon This Rock in Harrisburg, PA. She penned her personal newsletter, The Christian Disciple, to share The Word with family and friends.
Never one to rest, in 1994 Esther relocated to Harrisburg, PA so that she could be closer to her mother and stepfather, who had entered the Masonic Homes in Elizabethtown, PA, and her children and grandchildren.
She embraced her new life in Harrisburg with the same passion and energy that she lived in Philadelphia. On any day she could be seen patrolling Third Street with her golf club or sitting on her front steps getting to know and greeting everyone who passed by. She was an avid supporter of the late Mayor Stephen Reed and served six years on the Control Board and School Board. Although she was rarely seen with a camera her home was an archive full of photographs of people, places, and events. Unlike many people who store their photos in albums, Esther was almost compulsive about creating large collages which she hung on her walls so that the pictures could be viewed throughout the day.
Following a two-year battle with mental illness, Esther transitioned from her earthly journey and answered God's call. She was preceded in death by her daughter, Renee Edwards Medearis, and her grandson, Jamaal Beckham.
As it was in the beginning, a great – great grandmother, she leaves behind to cherish her memories, her sons, Clifton Dwight Edwards and Carnell Beckham Jr., six grandchildren Kirk and Damien Medearis, Shanika and Malik Beckham, and Aliyah and Naim Edwards, 13 great grandchildren, nine great - great grandchildren and her extended family of nieces, nephews, and friends.