Edna Spencer
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Edna P. (Thompson) Spencer

WORCESTER - Edna P. (Thompson) Spencer passed away peacefully on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. Edna was born in Chattanooga, TN. As a child she endured the loss of both her parents, Frances and Joe Thompson and experienced poor health herself. However, despite the obstacles she faced, Edna was able to soar. Her life story is one of a shy gifted individual with extraordinary fortitude, resiliency, and accomplishments.

Edna was married to the love of her life, Cornelius (Neak) Boyd Spencer for sixty-two years. Their joy was Olivia Rochelle Spencer-Marley, their daughter. Both preceded Edna in death. Following Olivia's death, the Olivia Rochelle Spencer Memorial Scholarship was established in 2006 at Worcester State University (WSU) to honor Olivia's loving spirit and creative gifts.

Neak and Edna had the opportunity to travel broadly; most of the United States, throughout Western Europe, South Africa, Egypt, the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, and Canada.

Edna earned an Associate degree from Quinsigamond Community College, a Bachelor's with "cum laude" honors and a Master's degree from Clark University in Worcester, MA. She was the first recipient of the Clark University COPACE Community Service Award for being an outstanding alumnus.

Edna enjoyed a 32-year career with State Mutual Life Assurance Co., now Hanover Insurance, prior to accepting the Director of Diversity and Affirmative Action Officer position at Worcester State University. In that role, she made it her mission to protect the rights of everyone on campus and promote a culture of tolerance and respect. With dignity and concern for others, she helped resolve issues, mediate conflict, and encourage a sense of shared purpose. After 16 years of service, she retired in January of 2012. In recognition of her many outstanding contributions, WSU dedicated a room in her honor on May 9, 2013.

Edna has been called a contemporary woman who was well known for her advocacy on behalf of people of color, women, and children. She was the first Black woman to serve as Chairman of the Trustee Board of Quinsigamond Community College and the first Black woman to serve as President of the YWCA of Central Massachusetts. She also served on the MLK Community Breakfast Committee, coordinated and chaired the annual MLK Youth Breakfast, and served on various other committees such as the African Heritage Festival Advisory Committee, City of Worcester Affirmative Action Committee, City Managers Strategic Planning 2000 Committee, Steering Committee for "Living Here Tomorrow", and the Committee for Equal Access for Worcester Vocational Schools. Edna was a past advisor to the Radcliff College Career Services Program and was one of the founders of the Henry Lee Willis Community Center. Her engagement in the community was boundless.

Her extraordinary leadership and comprehensive service to the community led Edna to receiving two keys to the city of Worcester and numerous awards and recognitions such as the National Conference for Christians and Jews Brotherhood award, the MLK Community Service Award, the Katherine F. Erskine Award for Education, the Massachusetts Teachers Association Civil Rights Award, and the Quinsigamond Community College Citizens Award.

As an author, her two publications were descriptive with a rare openness. In "What Color Is the Wind?" she shares some of her personal and family history. In "A Slice of Life" her creative talents are on full display. Both works are warm, moving, and sensitive.

Edna departed thanking her beloved niece Tracey Hathaway for loving care and support and her beloved friend of over thirty years, Mrs. Hermenia T. Gardner for her eager care. Their support enabled her to have the comfort of her own home during her final days. She leaves a host of nieces, nephews, friends, and former colleagues to cherish her memory.

Calling hours for Edna will be held on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 from 10-11 am in the MERCADANTE FUNERAL HOME & CHAPEL, 370 Plantation St., Worcester. Her funeral service will be held privately. Burial will be in Worcester County Memorial Park, Paxton. For the family and friends of Edna that are unable to attend the service, it will be Live streamed and can be accessed by going to www.mercadantefuneral.com and click on live services at the top of the page.


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Published in Worcester Telegram & Gazette from Jul. 9 to Jul. 12, 2020.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
JUL
15
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by MERCADANTE FUNERAL HOME AND CHAPEL - Worcester
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23 entries
July 18, 2020
Edna was a great role model for people of color. Her dedication to help people will be missed. My condolences to the Spencer family. God Bless Enda and family.
Lawrence Schuyler
July 17, 2020
My sincere condolences to all who loved Edna. Edna was a bright light in the City of Worcester, and an inspiration to all women. Her kindness will be deeply missed and warmly remembered. May you rest in peace Edna.
Noreen Johnson Smith
Coworker
July 15, 2020
Edna was an extraordinary woman with a remarkable legacy to the Worcester community. I treasured the 50-year warm and loving friendship we shared, filled with memories of her humor, elegance and style. From her I witnessed and learned what it means to possess an indominable spirit. I will miss her wisdom, strength and love.
Cynthia McMullen, Ed.D.
Cynthia McMullen
Friend
July 15, 2020
Condolences to the family of Mrs Edna Spencer. I am a friend of Mrs. Hermenia Gardner
Dorothy Manning
July 15, 2020
I am so sorry to hear about your dear friend Edna's passing. I hope that the love of family and friends will comfort and strengthen you in the days ahead
Maria Waring
Friend
July 15, 2020
My condolences to the entire family and friends.
Julia D.Lyons
July 15, 2020
Sending love & prayers of peace & comfort!
Charleen White
July 14, 2020
In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.
Gloria Rosemond
Acquaintance
July 12, 2020
Edna was a "Woman Before Her time" always thinking of and supporting others during her entire life !! She was a asset to the Personnel Team at SMLA where I also worked 30+ years.
Richard Nevers
Coworker
July 12, 2020
Edna was a fine lady.
Being in Payroll, working closely with her was a pleasure. She was always pleasant, supportive and helpful regardless of the circumstances.
Steve Mentzer
Coworker
July 12, 2020
My condolences to Edna's family. I knew Edna as a colleague at Worcester State University. She was kind and the epitome of professionalism. She greeted you with a smile. Her warmth was always comforting. She was a strong leader and I was privileged to know her.

Charlie Oroszko
Charles Oroszko
Coworker
July 12, 2020
I worked with Edna at State Mutual many many years ago...she was the light in the room...always had a smile on her face and had something good to say about everyone..she really left her footprints on the sand with all that knew her...will never forget you my friend! RIP till we meet again.

Sue Forgette
Sue Forgette
Friend
July 11, 2020
What an extraordinary woman! I valued her words of wisdom. While she was usually smiling and laughing, she knew how to make her opinions known. The respect people had for her was well-deserved.
Penny Johnson
Friend
July 10, 2020
My condolences to all who knew and loved Edna. I had the great honor and privilege of working for Edna Spencer right out of college at WSU Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action. Edna saw fire in me and she took me under her wing to groom me for her position. My heart was in youth work at the time but I learned so many things from Edna including from the ways she carried herself with both grace and an agenda in a predominantly white led institution. Rest in eternal power Edna.
Marianna Islam
Coworker
July 10, 2020
Edna was such a beautiful soul. You couldn't help but to smile when she was around, I always enjoyed our conversations so much and I admired how she and Cornelius adored each other. Edna, Cornelius and Olivia are together again. My deepest sympathies to Tracy and the rest of the family.
Lisa Stuart
Acquaintance
July 10, 2020
My sincerest condolences along with thoughts and prayers to the family in your time of need
Philip C Price Jr
July 9, 2020
Edna mentored me and so many other black women. She first met me when I was a quirky curious kid, soon after my parents first moved to Worcester from Mississippi. She and Cornelius lived on the second floor of a 3 decker,and my family lived on the first floor. She affirmed for me how to step into and embrace my voice, even then. Later whenever I was dealing with work related challenges, I could reach out to her and she would still tell me to embrace my voice and stand in my power as a black woman. Dearest Edna, the ancestors must be welcoming you with great pride.
Joyce McNickles
Friend
July 9, 2020
My memories of Edna are still vivid in my mind. Quite simply, one hell of a lady.
MICHAEL OATWAY
Coworker
July 9, 2020
What A extraordinary woman who left behind a legacy filled with giving back. Her footprint on the city of Worcester is one that bought out change and Paved the way for our future of young Advocate to continue to bridge together progress in social equality.

May you and your family find comfort in knowing Aunt Enda is home and surround in love. Our condolences to family and friend as well as young Generation that has no idea the impact that she made towards there future.
Christi Berry
Friend
July 9, 2020
We adored Edna. It was our pleasure to know her even just a bit. She will be remembered fondly.
Dianne and Steve Bostic
July 9, 2020
A beautiful soul who enriched my life, and cared deeply about our community.
Gladys Rodriguez-Parker
Friend
July 9, 2020
What a beautiful tribute to her. A woman certainly ahead of her time . May she Rest In Peace . Hats off to a job well done on this journey called life.
A Worcester resident
July 9, 2020
My condolences to Edna s family. Worcester lost an extra ordinary person. An outstanding civil rights advocate. She dedicated her whole life for the recognition that we are all equal;No matter the color of your skin, Race , nationality , gender ,age and religious beliefs . In her eyes we were all equal. God bless you my friend. May you Rest In Peace
Judge Luis G. Perez
Friend
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