Longtime Hyde Park resident Anna Pauline Cooke Spurlock passed quietly in her home with family on Wednesday, March 30, just shy of her 101st birthday.
Spurlock was born in Antoine, Ark., in 1916 the oldest of nine children. She was educated in a one-room in Vernon, Okla. Spurlock was unable to attend high school in the city where she lived. At the time the country operated under the 1896 case, Plessy v. Ferguson, where the ruling “separate but equal” was the law of the land. There was not a high school available for black children. Spurlock moved to another city with family to obtain her High School diploma.
In 1939, she graduated from Kansas State Teachers College (now known as Emporia State University) in Emporia, Kan., and spent decades following her passion for educating young children. After moving from Oklahoma to Chicago in the 1940s, she met her husband, Thomas Lloyd Spurlock. The couple was married for over 30 years until his passing, and they had four children. The family moved to Hyde Park in 1959. Spurlock fulfilled a lifelong dream of earning a graduate degree after her children became adults.
Spurlock lived in Hyde Park for nearly 60 years, and since 1959 was an active member of the First Baptist Church of Chicago, 935 E. 50th St. She retired in the early 1980s from Chicago Public Schools. For nearly 40 years she was an elementary school teacher at Reavis Elementary, 834 E. 50th St., many of those years were spent teaching second grade.
Last year, Spurlock celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends at A10 Restaurant, 1462 E. 53rd St.
Spurlock is survived by two sons, nine grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
No public memorial service is planned. In lieu of flowers, her family suggests donations to First Baptist Church of Chicago, 935 East 50th St., Chicago, IL 60615 in recognition of her decades-long membership there.