Susie Harrington, lifetime community advocate for the elderly and other disadvantaged populations, passed away quietly and peacefully on Sunday, Sept. 26, at St. Joseph’s Hospital, surrounded by friends, relatives, caregivers and others who knew and loved her, at the age of 91.
Arriving in Milwaukee in 1940, from her native Dyersburg, TN, where she graduated from Bruce High School, and later, at the age of 54, graduated from Marquette University, Susie immediately became involved in numerous religious and charitable causes. Her life’s calling was making things happen to improve the interests and goals of disadvantaged populations – which she did until God called her Home. Her entrepreneurial spirit enabled her to advocate for and create various programs to uplift and empower the community which have benefitted the elderly, disabled, and other vulnerable populations. Susie had a strong role in creating The Good Neighbor Listening Post (Mental Health Counseling), and was co-founder of the DOLL (Daughters of Luke, Ltd) Program, an historic community agency which provided homemaking and other support services for inner-city residents. The Agency has, over the years, offered employment to residents and provided culturally-competent health-related services. Susie was one of the first Interfaith Neighborhood Outreach Program Directors. A longtime resident of Brewer’s Hill, she advised elderly residents of their rights to remain in the community and wrote a booklet, “You Don’t Have To Move”, targeting these residents 62 and older, letting them know about the Property Tax Deferral Loan Program and Reverse Mortgages as resources to keep them from losing their homes which, in many cases, were mortgage-free, but at risk of loss because of high real estate taxes.
Prior to her outstanding community work, and equally as important is Mrs. Harrington’s well-known role as co-founder of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, along with her late husband, Rev. C.V. Harrington, in the late ‘50s. Pilgrim Rest was Milwaukee’s first Black Baptist Church designed, built, and financed by African-Americans. The Late Jurist, Attorney/ Judge Clarence R. Parrish and Mrs. Ardie Halyard, Columbia Savings and Loan Co-Founder, were instrumental in Pilgrim Rest’s construction. Mrs. Harrington’s book detailing this experience entitled, “Are You Building Or Buying A Church?”, detailing the plan of starting a Church Investment Club to finance its purchase or construction might well be revisited today!
Susie’s innovative, entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to individual and community self-sufficiency has received broad local, state, and national recognition – One of Wisconsin’s Ten Most Admired Senior Citizens – 1991; Milwaukee County Senior Citizen Hall of Fame Awardee – 1998; other local recognition awards include the following from the Black Women’s Network, Inc., and Community Recognition and Appreciation Celebration, “Gathering Flowers For The Master’s Bouquet”, given March 28, 2003. She will be greatly missed!
Remembered, fondly, by a large family; friends and others whose life she touched, her final Celebratory Services were held on Monday, Oct. 4, at the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, 3737 N. Sherman Boulevard.