Omar, a neighborhood fixture beloved by many and despised by others, passed away last week (updated)

Posted on 12 June 2017

This photo portrait of Omar was made by well-known West Philly photographer Kyle Cassidy.

The news has spread very fast – Omar, a controversial, but undoubtedly iconic Spruce Hill individual, has passed away. Although we couldn’t confirm the details, he reportedly died suddenly last week in Long Beach Island, N.J.

A vigil for Omar was held Thursday night at 45th and Locust (photo by Kyle Cassidy).

Many folks who knew him gathered at 45th and Locust Thursday night for a vigil (see more photos below).

Omar was known by many as simultaneously a neighborhood eccentric, dangerous aggressor (sometimes violently so) and idiosyncratic barfly. He showed up in the Spruce Hill neighborhood in the early 2000s, sometimes disappearing for weeks at a time to “the burbs” (his words).

Omar made some people in the neighborhood angry by his erratic and often aggressive behavior (especially toward young women), but he was “a staple of the neighborhood,” as one neighbor put it.  Continue Reading

Comments (13)

Funeral services for UC Green’s Winnie Harris, murdered last week, set for Monday, Feb. 13

Posted on 10 February 2017

Funeral services for beloved West Philly community activist and acting executive director of UC Green, Winnie Harris, who was found shot to death in her Powelton home last Friday, will take place Monday, Feb. 13.

The funeral will be at the Christ Community Church of Philadelphia (4017 Chestnut St.), beginning at 10 a.m. A closed casket Memorial Hour will begin at 9 a.m. Burial will be at the West Laurel Hill Cemetery, 215 Belmont Avenue, in Bala Cynwyd, followed by a reception for family and friends.

A number of community organizations where Harris, a longtime Powelton resident and green space advocate, has been involved with posted their messages grieving her tragic death.  Continue Reading

Comments (0)

West Philly woman killed in Orlando shooting (updated)

Posted on 13 June 2016


Akyra Murray (photo from

A West Philadelphia woman, Akyra Murray, 18, was confirmed as one of the victims of the mass shooting that happened on early Sunday morning at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fl.

Akyra graduated from West Catholic High School last week and was on a family vacation in Florida to celebrate graduation and visit her brother, according to information posted on the West Catholic High School website.

“… Akyra was a superstar who was a leader amongst her classmates and teammates,” the posting on the website reads. “She was an honors student whom graduated third in her class, and a 1,000 point scorer on the Lady Burrs basketball team. Akyra recently signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Mercyhurst College. May God bless Akyra’s soul and provide comfort to all family and friends during this very troubling time.”

The school will be holding a vigil service on Wednesday, June 15, at 6 p.m. in the school auditorium to honor Akyra’s memory. Out of respect for those closest to Akyra, the vigil will be private to the school and family community only.

There will be a vigil for the Orlando massacre victims tonight at City Hall (meeting at the North East corner), from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. If you can please bring a candle. More information is available on the event’s Facebook page.

A University City High School graduate, Patience Carter, was wounded in the shooting and is expected to recover.

Comments (4)

Service for Cheryl Roebuck who passed away on Saturday

Posted on 07 June 2016

CherylRoebuckWe’re very sad to report that Cheryl Roebuck, a veteran music teacher, Garden Court community activist, and wife of State Rep. Jim Roebuck, passed away last week.

Mrs. Roebuck has worked for the School District of Philadelphia for over thirty years. She has also been active in her West Philadelphia community for over twenty years. She has served as the secretary of the University City Arts League and was a board member of the Garden Court Community Association.

Funeral services for Mrs. Roebuck will be held on Friday, June 10, at Arch Street United Methodist Church, 55 N. Broad Street. Visitation with the family will be from 10:00 a.m. –12:00 p.m.; service starts at 12:00 p.m.


Comments (1)

Remembering Cynthia “Cindy” Roberts, former PIC director and Spruce Hill community leader

Posted on 15 February 2016


Photo from

The Parent Infant Center and Spruce Hill community have lost a long-time resident and leader. Cindy Roberts, a former PIC parent and in the recent years, their Executive Director, passed away on February 10th after a year-long battle with cancer. She was 62.

tribute to Roberts posted on the PIC website reads that even in the face of illness, she “continued to show her grace, never-ending generosity, and wonderfully quick wit.”

Roberts and her family moved to West Philly in 1985 and enrolled their two-year-old daughter at PIC. She was a “part of PIC’s culture for more than 30 years — first as a parent, then as a Board member, and finally as an administrator and Executive Director,” according to PIC’s tribute.


Cindy Roberts serving dessert at Charles Dickens’ Birthday Party in Clark Park in February 2013. (Photo from

Roberts served as PIC’s Executive Director from 2007 to 2012. She led the expansion of the center and worked on the increase of access to quality pre-kindergarten to at-risk children and families. During her PIC leadership years, she was also behind the development of the innovative outdoor learning space, “Magic Circle.”

Roberts was also a fixture in the Spruce Hill neighborhood. She served as president of the Spruce Hill Community Association and of the Friends of Clark Park. According to, Roberts, along with her husband Daniel R. Biddle, “was a tireless civic worker and the driving force behind the revival of Clark Park, just a few blocks from the couple’s home.”

A Memorial Service for Cindy Roberts will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27 at the Arch Street Friends Meetinghouse, 320 Arch Street. The family asks that donations in her memory be made to fund pre-K slots for disadvantaged children at the Parent Infant Center, 4205 Locust Street.

Comments (1)

Memorial services for Calvary’s Edward Fell this Saturday

Posted on 12 February 2016

12670847_10154493497059428_7737159332643809351_nMemorial services will be held Saturday for Edward Fell, a beloved long-time member of the Calvary United Methodist Church who died unexpectedly earlier this month.

“Ed was in many ways both the heart and face of Calvary – a long-time and active member and lay leader, as well as church administrator, building manager and community liasion,” read a message from the church. “As Pastor John (Pritchard) wrote in a letter to the congregation earlier today, ‘Ed’s deep faith, his devotion to Calvary, his service as ambassador of the Calvary community, his gentle spirit and cheery voice were gifts he gave to us all and gifts that we will deeply miss.'”

The public is welcome to the service on Saturday, Feb. 13.

Here is the schedule:

9-10 a.m.: Viewing (chapel)
10-11:45 a.m.: Funeral/Homegoing Service (chapel)
12 noon: Repast (lower level)

Comments (0)

Tag your photos #westphillylocal on instagram

Follow Us:


Upcoming Events