Gloria Samuel worked for 50 years as a housekeeper in Philadelphia, traveling to the Jersey Shore in summer with her employers and their families. When she retired in the 1980s, she moved to the shore and settled in Pleasantville.

It wasn’t until her retirement years that she became a mom for the first time — an adopted mom — to several women at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Pleasantville, including Marionette Todd, of Egg Harbor Township, and Peggy Whittacker, of Galloway Township.

Her other “daughter” is the woman she calls her first lady, Garnetta Phillips Sanders, the wife of her pastor, the Rev. Winfred J. Sanders.

“Those are my adopted children. They take care of their mom,” said Samuel, who turns 100 on Sept. 19 and now lives in a retirement home in Galloway Township. Her “daughters” visit regularly, and are throwing her a birthday party Sept. 21.

Samuel moved to Philadelphia from South Carolina as a 23-year-old in 1936, following some of her 19 siblings and stepsiblings, she said.

The daughter of a cotton and tobacco farmer, she remembers traveling to church in a horse and buggy.

“I had good parents that provided for us. We didn’t have a lot of money but never went hungry,” Samuel said.

Her parents convinced her she’d have a better life in the North.

“How can I tell you how they treated black people down South? They didn’t think we needed this or that,” she said. “They took things from my dad. He worked hard for what he had.”

Memorial fundraiser

Stockton Softball Alumni members are holding a fundraiser to honor their late teammate, Tara Barker, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Tailgaters Bar in Galloway Township.

Barker, a physical therapist, was the first student awarded a doctorate in physical therapy at Richard Stockton College. She died of colon cancer Aug. 6 at age 29.

Tickets are $20, available at the door, and proceeds benefit a trust fund set up by Barker’s parents to establish memorials and scholarships at Stockton and at her high school.

A pitcher and first baseman, Barker will be the first Stockton softball player inducted into the Osprey Hall of Fame in a ceremony Oct. 4.

Ocean County’s top teacher

Maureen Neuner, of Atlantic City, was recently named Ocean County Teacher of the Year by Gov. Chris Christie.

Neuner is a business education teacher and SADD and Computer Club adviser at Pinelands Regional Junior High School in Tuckerton.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post: 609-272-7219, MPost@pressofac.com

More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.