Union activist, housing organizer, loving mother, stalwart supporter of the People’s Weekly World newspaper and lifelong communist Gloria Freedman passed away Feb. 16 in New York City at the age of 92. Born Gloria Silver in 1915 as the second of eight children, Freedman was the only one of the family who took interest in her father’s business, a local candy store on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Freedman loved music, poetry and all aspects of working-class culture. She also loved Scrabble and often played with friends and family. She had a flair for life and an infectious sense of hope and humor.

In high school she excelled in sports, particularly in running. She won many prizes for her athletic accomplishments. Her older sister, Bernice, introduced her to the movement. She distributed the Daily Worker in her neighborhood and developed a talent for public speaking. She joined the Young Communist League and soon after, the Communist Party.

Freedman served as a “WAC” (Women’s Army Corps) in the U.S. Army during World War II in the Philippines and Borneo. She often told stories about giving political speeches in the barracks while standing on a footlocker.

After the war she attended Columbia University on the “GI Bill” and received a degree in social work. She worked in the Welfare Department and had a passion for serving the people of New York City. She always taught her clients to fight for their rights within the welfare system. She was an active member of local 371, affiliated with AFSCME DC 37.

She married and had two sons, Kenny and Dean. Early in the boys’ lives she lost her husband and became a single mother, working full time, deeply engaged in political struggles, and raising two young boys all at the same time.

She moved to Stuyvesant Town housing development on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and once again became active in the tenants movement. With retirement, Freedman moved to Penn South housing complex in Chelsea, where she became an institution at street fairs and street tabling — petitioning for peace and doing voter registration and other grassroots work — in the neighborhood. She also became a leader of the retirees association of her union, eventually becoming vice president of the AFSCME DC 37 Retirees Association.

She was a dedicated member of the Communist Party her entire life and was a consistent recruiter and fundraiser who always put the Party first. She was a generous donor to the People’s Weekly World and activist in the CPUSA’s Chelsea Club.

“Gloria’s focus was always on the future, and she had a deep confidence and trust in the working class. Late in life, she aimed to recruit and train new members to carry on her work,” said Libero Della Piana, New York CP chair.

Active right until the end, Freedman many times said, “It’s the Party that keeps me going.”

“Gloria was a fearless organizer and mass leader, a stalwart communist, a dedicated mother and friend. She spent her life committed to the struggles for a better world, for justice, jobs, equality, peace and socialism. She will be missed by friends, family and comrades,” Della Piana said.

Contributions in Gloria Freedman’s name to the People’s Weekly World newspaper are welcome. Add your name to a PWW ad honoring Gloria by contacting New York Friends of the PWW at 646-437-5355 or nyfriends@pww.org.

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