Thelma Anderson, 89, jazz promoter and city worker
Oct 21, 2017
Thelma Anderson, the founder of the Council of Jazz Advocates, died on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. She was 89.
She was known as “The Queen of Philadelphia jazz.” She was born on April 20, 1928, in Suffolk, Va., and was the only child of the late Willie and Fannie Wilson. She was raised in Philadelphia.
Anderson was a mother, educator and fearless promoter of jazz music. She developed a love for the music in second grade and grew up with such jazz luminaries as the Heath Brothers and her best friend, Benny Golson. She became hooked on jazz music after she saw Ella Fitzgerald with the Chick Webb Orchestra at the Nixon Grand Theater.
Anderson was educated in Philadelphia public schools, graduating from Girls High School, She attended Morgan State University, where she joined Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and was an active member throughout her life.
She worked for Blue Cross/Blue Shield in customer service and was eventually promoted to an instructor who oversaw the entire department. In the mid-1960s, she commuted to New York City where she worked as the regional director of advertising for New Lady Magazine.
Anderson worked as a civil servant for the City of Philadelphia — first as assistant to Goldie Watson, deputy mayor for the city, and later held the position of deputy managing director for nearly 30 years until her retirement in the 1990s. She also headed the Clean Philadelphia Program and was a member of the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee.
She is survived by: her son, M. Dean Anderson; daughter, Tracey L. Andrews; goddaughter, Althea Stinson; granddaughters, Teresa, Amber and Adjua; five great-grandchildren; five great-great-grandchildren; other relatives; and friends.
A jazz memorial will be held Nov. 25 at 2 p.m. at Oxford Presbyterian Church, 8501 Stenton Ave.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the American Cancer Society in Thelma Anderson’s memory.