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HomeNewsNational NewsFormer Camden Mayor Gwen Faison remembered as ‘the epitome of class’

Former Camden Mayor Gwen Faison remembered as ‘the epitome of class’

Faison’s one-time campaign manager Anthony Lingo marveled at her grace, even when the city was placed under state control for eight years of her mayoralty. “Even though the state took over the finances,” said Lingo, as he waited on a long line outside Antioch to pay his respects, “she was able to make government work.”

Outside Antioch Baptist Church in Camden, Anthony Lingo who was at one time former Camden Mayor Gwen Faison’s campaign manager, waits to pay his respects to Faison on July 21. (Photo by April Saul for WHYY)

Former Camden business administrator and current mayor of Gloucester, Pat Keating, said even though Faison wasn’t happy about the state control, “in her own, normal, inimitable way, she put her stamp on it.”

Faison’s reign marked the end of an era in which three Camden mayors who preceded her had gone to prison. Many remembered her for the “honesty” and “integrity” Faison restored to the office.

“She was the epitome of class,” said Dee Bailey, a member of the Tenth Street Baptist Church, where Faison was a congregant.

In her personal life, Faison was a mother of three, who married her childhood sweetheart from her native North Carolina, James W. Faison Jr.

Faison, said Cook, told him about James, “her kindergarten sweetheart who rode around on the handlebars of his bicycle while delivering newspapers.” Years later, she told Cook, Faison dropped out of college to follow her to Camden and knocked on her door, a “pitiful, lovestruck guy.”

“She said, ‘I felt sorry for him, I had to let him in,’” said Cook. “So friendship, commitment, and love were always there.”

Born on Valentine’s Day 1925, Faison, known as a “fashionista” of her time, was laid to rest in an outfit in her signature shade of bright red. An usher at the Antioch service was prompted to remark, “Doesn’t she look sharp? I want that dress myself.”

Her pastor at Tenth Street, the Rev. Dr. Tony Evans, told the people who assembled of Faison’s upbringing amid the cotton and tobacco fields of North Carolina during the era of Jim Crow segregation laws.

“But that didn’t stop her, that didn’t stop this feisty warrior that found her way to that great city on the east banks of the Delaware River,” said Evans.

“She could be from North Carolina, but Camden was her home.”

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