Saluting Delores Hearring, one of Bayview’s oldest residents, as she turns 100

by Bernice Johnson

As Delores Hearring celebrates her 100th birthday on July 11, 2014, allow us to share a bit of her history and contribution to the Hunters Point Bayview community.

Delores Hearring
Delores Hearring

Born 1914 in Jacksonville, Alabama, Delores was raised in the rural county of Calhoun. She was the one of three children born to John Westly and Mary Alice Green. Growing up during this time in history, Delores speaks of her limited opportunities in education due to the Great Depression and the segregation in the South. She speaks of how she survived two tornadoes in Alabama and the burns she suffered when one of those tornadoes caused the furnace in her schoolhouse to explode.

Migration

In the 1940s, as African Americans migrated from the South in search of opportunities in housing, employment and education, her husband, the late Willie B. Hearring, came to California alone in 1942 to take a job at the Navy yard in Los Angeles. As fate would have it, upon his arrival, all the jobs in Los Angeles were filled and he was offered a job at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. Delores, along with oldest children, Margaret Josephine Johnson and the late Garnet Elizabeth Franklin, arrived in San Francisco in 1943.

Her first home in San Francisco was in the Hunters Point projects, where she lived for nearly nine years and added to her family Delores Ann Anderson, Willie Faye Garrett and her only son, the late Winston Hearring. In 1951, Delores and Willie B. bought their home on Bridgeview Drive. She has been blessed to have raised five children and to have eight grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and 17 great-great-grandchildren.

Career

Delores speaks with pride of her days working in the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard as a riveter. Not having had the opportunity to complete her schooling, she did so in California, earning her high school diploma and attending San Francisco City College for two years.

Women shipyard workers during World War II were often referred to as Rosie the Riveter – and most of them were Black.
Women shipyard workers during World War II were often referred to as Rosie the Riveter – and most of them were Black.

Delores was employed at the San Francisco General Hospital for more than 30 years, first serving as a nursing assistant. She was one of the first African Americans to pass the test for psychiatric orderly and served as a senior psychiatric orderly at the hospital for 16 years until she retired.

Activism

Delores is what one refers to as a “race person.” She believes that as an African American, it was her duty and responsibility to make a better life for herself, her family and community and to demonstrate to future generations that the obstacles of racial prejudice were just barriers which could be overcome with drive and commitment.

Her greatest activism is displayed by her belief in family. Family is everything to Delores. She has devoted her time and money to ensuring that her family seek and continue to seek knowledge to live, grow and prosper.

A longtime member of Bethel AME Church, she is an avid gardener and attributes her long life in part to eating the many vegetables she has grown in her own yard. We thank you, Delores Hearring, for your contributions to our community and wish you a Happy, Happy, Happy 100th Birthday!

Bernice Johnson can be reached at bernice.415@gmail.com.