They are not forgotten
To submit a memory or memorial of a lifer, please contribute through our contact form, or email email@example.com.
“I was looking thru my stuff yesterday and came across obituaries of Jerry Mims and Raymond Crawford. They don’t get any better than those two does it. The creative energy and eternal optimism of Jerry was infectious. He never had a bad word for anyone and was always willing to help. Raymond, the thing I remember most about him was when he took up art. He exemplified the good heart of the staff at the fort. They bought some of his pieces despite him being the worst artist I have ever seen. He said it wasn’t so much the art U are selling as it is the personality. Is that good or what. I suffered a recent loss. A brother died two weeks ago from the corona at Chester. We go back to the sand box. He was down 50 years. His name is Al Joyner. He was a hell of a gentleman , even when we were kids, a kind and gentle soul. The world is less without him.”
“Peace B Unto U, I don’t know how I could think of fallen soldiers and not mention Lonnie Johnson. Lonnie mentored most of the long termers of Graterford. He fell in 1963. He was my old head. There was a poolroom in my neighborhood that was on the circuit. Lonnie used to B in there. He had a stick. We were kids but the owner used to let us run errants. I remember when Lonnie bought this brand new Desoto. It was a 1960. It looked like it was a block long. It was a white convertible with red guts. Every time he would come around we would beg for ride. Sometimes he would oblige. When we were allowed to where civilian clothes in prison we were mostly into jogging suits. Lonnie dressed like he was on set of the movie the”Mack”. He had Jerry curls that hung to his shoulder, high heel celebrity boots, black satin pants and shirt open to the waist with a chain with medallion hanging from his neck, long finger nails and the rap to go with it. Unbelievable! Guess what? He was well read, highly intelligent with a heart of gold.”
“My condolences to all who knew Bro. Saleem/ Carl Cooper. May Allah forgive him of his sins and grant him Paradise as our close and dear friend. Let’s hold his memory in our hearts forever.”
“Commuted PA lifer and my dear friend, Bruce Norris passed away early on 1/31/21 from COVID-19 in a local Norristown, PA hospital.
I have known Bruce since 1989 when we worked together in the industries office and continued to work together when I clerked in the Activities Department. He was truly a good friend and possessed all the good qualities one would seek in a friend. He was a kind, honest and gentle person, always willing to help those in need. He tutored Villanova University students in Latin, sold Girl Scout Cookies for many years and was heavily involved with the Lifers, Inc. prisoner based organization. He was committed to the indoor/outdoor Volleyball Program and rose to League Commissioner. He was always honest, fair and defused heated volleyball games with his wise words and calm demeanor. A true gentleman.
We talked regularly about his plans to move in with his sister in NE Philly. Perry Lighty (Face) his son, had a car, phone and a bicycle for him. Bruce dreamed of a Sunday bicycle ride along the Schuylkill River on boat house row. He was so excited to go on a ride with his children. His smile filled his face in those moments. We planned our ride together, someday.
I looked forward speaking to him everyday which was easy as we lived on the same tier. I feel so bad for his loving family that always fought hard to get him home. He was only the Governor’s signature away from freedom. Society missed out on Bruce’s reentry. He would have shined brightly and given as much love as he received.
Bruce is included in the book, Doing Time by Howard Zehr. We’ll always have that lovely photo, memory and his words.
Be free my friend, you are dearly missed..”
“Jerry Mims ( gone for some time now) was a dear friend and colleague who was loved and respected by everyone who knew and worked with him. His legacy as the most dedicated and hard working Secretary of Lifers Inc. will never be forgotten. Our memories of him are a blessing.”
My Friend Gary (d. 2/14/19)
This is a tribute to a good man who died much too soon. In life, he did much for whatever community he spent his energy, brainpower, and dogged determination. Gary’s passing was also a big loss to his family, friends, and those that knew him.
We met in1988, when I asked if he would participate in the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanna. He replied, no, only because he filed an appeal and firmly believed he would be home before then. Since that initial meeting Gary dedicated a portion of each day in his struggle for freedom. He maintained the same mindset in every project, program or commitment he made.
He wore so many hats I will do my best to portray the full extent of his life. First, Gary embraced Judaism, kept the Kosher dietary laws and even prepared these meals for all following this diet. Gary was an active congregant, and admirably served as Jewish Congregation Men’s Club president for over a decade. Gary interfaced with staff and volunteers on a daily basis to be certain our community remained current. This was no easy feat and often a thankless position. Gary was a professional in all interactions.
Gary’s compassion for others led him to volunteer in the Hospice Program. Having witnessed too many once vital men become terminally ill, marginalized, then castaway to the far reaches of the internal hospital or transferred far from home, Gary was determined to bring a better quality of life to these seriously men. Gary spent countless hours over 3 shifts tending to the needs of men no longer strong enough to care for themselves. Gary wrote letters, read letters, helped the guys eat or did whatever was necessary always without complaint. He respected the dignity of each person until the end came.
Gary earned state certification as a Certified Peer Support, CPS and in hospice care in order to provide his best possible service.
Gary also volunteered to administer his peer support expertise to the men residing on death row. Gary made certain these men received everything permitted by DOC policy. His hard work and dedication was appreciated and respected by every member of this group. This became widely known as once the men over turned their death sentences and joined us in population they continued to speak highly of Gary’s efforts on their behalf. Gary continued to help them once they entered population.
For the Lifers, Inc. prisoner organization, Gary did many things. One highlight was his success in obtaining a grant for this group whose money translated into a documentary advocating for changes in e commutation process. His last project was advocating for a more meaningful medical release law to become enacted. He was motivated by concern for others but ironically needed his own relief through the law as it now exists.
Also for the Lifers, Inc. Gary allocated his time and energy by trying to get our local legislators to pass a parole eligibility law for PA lifers. In Pa, a life sentence is the same as death by incarceration, DBI. Gary understood that after 31 years the pendulum has finally reversed and this may be our golden opportunity to have our plea for mercy to be heard. He channeled this energy to helping all 5500 PA sentenced lifers to be considered for parole.
To honor Gary’s lifelong dedication of service to others may I humbly request you support one or more of his projects or causes, thus he would still be a force for good if his life was not taken so suddenly.
On a personal note, we shared many of the same passions. Both of us cared about maintaining our religious practice and I too held office in the synagogue. We shared a passion for Philly sports teams especially the Eagles and 76ers. We worked on compassionate release legislative reform, parole for lifers, exercise, yoga, and various programs. I admired his determination to gain his freedom and feel deeply saddened that Gary’s outcome could not have been as we hoped.
His legacy will live on through a multitude of good acts he performed on a daily basis. Gary’s life had meaning for himself and was a role model to others. I miss my dear friend. Be at Peace!
Stan Rosenthal, AS0828
Passed Lifers at SCI-Graterford -- 1991 - present
Jerome (Jabar) Boyd
Carrol Eugene Kibler
Earl Hall, Jr.
Williams Ismail Glover
Harry Lee Whitman
Juan Luis Lopez
Dana Marcel Greene
Todd Michael Rynard
Joseph Miller, Jr.
Jeffrey Roger Wells
Robert Settles, Jr.
William Sonny Gravely