by Courier Newsroom
Alma Naomi Thomas Burgess. One hundred years young. One hundred years strong.
The New Pittsburgh Courier learned that hundreds congregated at the DoubleTree Hotel in Monroeville, Sept. 28, to celebrate Ms. Burgess’ 100th birthday.
Ms. Burgess moved to Duquesne, Pa., when she was 4 years old. Her father, a minister, worked in the steel mills. Ms. Burgess graduated from Duquesne High School in 1937. She then received her BA in Secondary Education from the University of Pittsburgh. She married John Wesley Burgess and had two children.
Ms. Burgess was employed with the Department of Veterans Affairs for 38 years as a clinical psychiatric social worker. A marriage and family counselor and social work group leader, Ms. Burgess was a field instructor and associate professor for the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh. She held a similar appointment at West Virginia University’s School of Social Work, where she was president of the Field Faculty Association.
Ms. Burgess is a life-long member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and calls St. James AME Church home. She was consecrated a deaconess in the AME Church in 2003.
Ms. Burgess was initiated into Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Iota Chapter, at Pitt in 1941, and has been an active member of the graduate chapter, Alpha Alpha Omega, for more than 70 years.
When asked what she would say to young African Americans today, Ms. Burgess said she feels lifted when she thinks about the opportunities available to young people now, unlike when she was younger, and the only opportunities were to teach in the South or work for the Department of Public Assistance. Ms. Burgess recalled going to Kaufmann’s department store to get a job, and the only employment they would offer her, after earning a college degree, was a bathroom attendant position. She said that young people must understand the significance of the many opportunities available to them today.
Ms. Burgess is the proud mother of Jack Burgess and Janice Burgess. Christian and Wesley Samuel Burgess are her beloved grandchildren.
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