Sister Jean Webster, who fed Atlantic City's poor for decades, will have a gravestone dedicated today, paid for with money donated from the community. A larger memorial service with local officials present is planned Monday.
Radio talk show host Harry Hurley led a fundraising drive in March after learning that Webster’s grave remained unmarked following her January 2011 death at age 76. The effort raised $1,450 after several weeks of pledges through Hurley’s “Hurley in the Morning” radio program on 1450 AM WPG.
“It was just impossible for me to accept. Sister Jean fed tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people, and lay in an unmarked grave,” Hurley said Wednesday. “We took care of that posthaste because of the generosity of our community.”
Webster’s family has scheduled a memorial service for 11 a.m. today at her gravesite in the Atlantic City Cemetery in Pleasantville and another on Monday, which will be attended by local officials, including Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford.
Many friends and colleagues were encouraged by the effort to mark her grave.
“I know how much dedication she put into everything,” said Al Garrett, who often donated food to Webster via his job at Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Church in Atlantic City. “That’s why I wanted to come to pay my respects.”
The Rev. John Scotland, who currently oversees the kitchen, said he’s thankful to Webster’s protege at the kitchen, Sister Debbie Thomas, and Hurley, who both worked hard to have a gravestone there.
“I feel the epitaph is very appropriate — ‘God told me to feed the people,’” he said. “It’s important to have a place for people to go to in a time of solace. Her work ... stands as an important lesson for all of us.”
Sister Jean's Kitchen still serves warm meals to the city's poor at Victory First Presbyterian Church on Pacific Avenue in Atlantic City.
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