COATESVILLE —On Sunday afternoon, the public will have the opportunity to pay tribute to a true giant who has done so much for Coatesville.
Doris Anna Norman Robinson Spann, who founded the Coatesville Food Cupboard, helped Coatesville veterans for three decades, received hundreds of humanitarian service awards and was recognized by a former president, died last month at 103 year.
His funeral, a private celebratory service open to family and friends, will begin at 5 p.m. on Sept. 11 at Passtown First Baptist Church in the town of Coatesville.
People from the community and across the region are invited to pay their respects to Spann from 3 to 4:45 p.m. during the public viewing.
“Doris Spann is an iconic figure in the Coatesville community and her presence continues to be felt through her legacy of service to veterans, those facing food insecurity, and anyone in need,” said said Pennsylvania State Senator Carolyn Comitta, D-19th of West Chester. Friday.
“As a woman of courage and faith, she was always ready to lend a hand and a listening ear. As a community leader and activist, she was a strong advocate for voting rights and a warrior for justice,” Comitta said.
“In celebrating his life, we should all strive to follow his example by embracing the values of inclusion, camaraderie, volunteerism and civic engagement,” the senator added.
A woman of inspiration, Spann was recognized by an American president in the 1990s, opened the Coatesville Emergency Food Cupboard in the 1970s, and joined her sister and neighbors in founding the Southeast Business and Professional Women’s Club in the 1970s. 1980.
“Doris Spann is a blessing in a million that has come to our family and to the town of Coatesville,” Councilwoman C. Arvilla Hunt said Friday. “His love and concern for the well-being of all was second to none.”
The adviser said of Spann’s legacy: “103 years of humble beginnings and enduring commitment to others.”
Hunt was a niece of Spann.
In November 2019, East Chestnut Street and North 10th Avenue were renamed Doris A. Robinson-Spann Boulevard in November 2019. She was the city’s first resident to receive such an honor. The dedication was in appreciation for his unwavering commitment to the community of Coatesville.
“I consider it a double privilege to be able to call her my aunt as well as to serve on the city council and lead the street dedication to honor her,” Hunt said, “in front of the building that served our community for many years as a food cupboard.”
At this location, Spann and her husband, Moses Spann, opened the Coatesville Emergency Food Cupboard in 1972.
Spann and his family members, including several sisters, spent 40 years providing food and conversation to anyone who needed a little support, his descendants said in his obituary. Additionally, the pantry was more than just a place to have a meal, it was a place of fellowship, community, and inclusion.
At the tender age of 95, Spann retired from his 40+ year role in the pantry.
During the street dedication ceremony, former state senator Andy Dinniman paid tribute to Spann, whom he called his friend.
A nurse, Spann cared for veterans at Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Caln for more than three decades.
Born Doris Anna Robinson in Norfolk, Virginia on April 10, 1919, she was one of 10 children to parents Cecil and Lettie Manley Norman. When she was two, her family moved north to Coatesville.
She married James Robinson. They had two children, Jim and Diana.
Years later, she married Moses Spann, who predeceased her.
Spann died on August 29 at her daughter’s home and surrounded by family members.
She was the sole survivor of her siblings.
Those who knew her said Spann was a woman with unrelenting courage and strength that can only come from faith in God. She made a difference everywhere she went. When Spann saw a void in her neighborhood where hunger and loneliness set in, she did all she could to care for those in need.
In her obituary, her family said, “Doris Spann lived a life of service to the Coatesville community.”
Spann was a longtime member of the Coatesville Second Baptist Church, serving on the board of missionaries and as superintendent of Sunday school.
During her lifetime, she received 250 awards and honors. She also served on the Chester County Prison Board. In addition, she was a Meals On Wheels volunteer for the Huston de Coatesville Foundation.
In 1991, President Bill Clinton recognized Spann for his community service, welcoming him into the 90s Club through the White House.
The late U.S. Senator Carl Milton Levin of Michigan led the effort that ultimately resulted in the executive’s decision to honor Spann, his daughter, Diana Robinson Lewis, said Friday afternoon.
“My mother was an angel,” Lewis said.
“She had a moment for everyone,” she said.
100th anniversary celebration
A 100th anniversary celebration was held for Spann in April 2019.
“She’s a great example of what a Christian woman should be,” said Regina Lewis, who has known Spann for most of her life.
Spann said that in the 1940s and 1950s Coatesville was a prosperous town, fueled by the prosperity of Lukens Steel Company.
“Everyone worked for Lukens,” she said. “And I mean everyone. I remember all the stores – JC Penney, Pep Boys, the Army-Navy store, Boston Shoes, the Coatesville Hotel. I can close my eyes and see all the stores that were in Coatesville. I remember when Coatesville drive-in opened just outside of town.
She continued, “I love the people of Coatesville. That’s what it’s all about, love.
At the age of 100, Span said, “I’m just going to serve the Lord and pray every day. I will not stop.
And Spann took a moment to add, “Coatesville is a great city.”
“The real impact of Spann’s life cannot simply be measured in terms of years,” state Rep. Dan Williams, D-74th of Sadsbury, said Friday night.
“The immeasurable impact of her life should be determined by the lives she nurtured, encouraged and inspired,” the lawmaker said. “His life has been a life spent always answering the question, ‘What can I do for others?’ She answered that question by investing her time, energy and compassion to make this community better.
Spann’s daughter, Diana Robinson Lewis, said her mother’s favorite songs were “One Day At A Time” as well as “Jesus Loves Me”.
Her favorite color was purple.
Lewis is an award-winning broadcaster, having worked in the field for 50 years. His daughter, Glenda, followed in his footsteps. The two women shared the stage as Channel 7 ABC presenters in Michigan on Mother’s Day in 2005, winning a national award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for being the first mother-daughter to present a live news program together.
During the last year of her life, Spann lived with her daughter in Michigan. Until 2021, she had lived in Coatesville since she was two years old.
“God is so awesome and so good to us,” Lewis said on Friday. “We just live a life full of examples because that’s the life my mother lived. My mother was a human rights fighter. She was a fighter for women’s suffrage.
Lewis called his mother a “cheerful giver. She loved people and she gave.