Ida Peters of Afro-American, 77, covered Hollywood scene

April 16, 1996|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Ida Peters, a reporter for the Afro-American newspaper in Baltimore for more than 35 years who was known for her finely crafted stories about the world of entertainment, died Saturday of a heart attack. She was 77.

She suffered the heart attack while covering "For Sisters Only," a program for young and middle-aged African-American women at the Baltimore Convention Center.

Mrs. Peters, who lived on Ruxton Avenue, gave equal attention to the big-name Hollywood personalities and the smaller acts that appeared in Pennsylvania Avenue nightclubs.

James D. Williams, editor of the Afro-American, said Mrs. Peters especially enjoyed covering younger entertainers because "it made her feel that she was on the cutting edge."

"She has interviewed all of the big celebrities in Hollywood," he said. "She was strictly a professional. She was just totally enveloped in the world of entertainment. She had a fire that keeps going."

Mrs. Peters had "an unquestioned loyalty to journalism," said Sam Lacy, a sports reporter and editor at the Afro-American for 55 years. "She has occupied a very big role here for a long time."

A Baltimore native, the former Ida Murphy graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in 1935 and the University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism in 1940.

That year she joined the Afro-American, working in the advertising department. At that time her father, the late Dr. Carl Murphy, was the newspaper's editor and publisher, and her grandfather, the late John H. Murphy Sr., was its owner.

In 1960, she became a feature writer and in 1964 began her "What's Happening" column, reporting on community events. It became one of the paper's most popular features.

For years she headed the paper's "Clean Block" neighborhood beautification contest and was the paper's Mrs. Santa for a charity drive that provided needy families with food and gifts at Christmas.

The Rev. Vashti McKenzie, her daughter and pastor of Payne Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore, said her mother "retired" in 1982, meaning she went from working full time to almost full time.

"Mother never did anything part time in her life," Mrs. McKenzie said. "She continued to review movies, interview stars and go to openings. She was doing what she wanted to do up until the end. Mother was not the kind to go home and wait for death."

In 1938, Ida Murphy married S. Edward Smith. They divorced in 1968. In 1970, she married B. John Peters, who died in 1987.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at Payne Memorial AME Church, 1714 Madison Ave.

Other survivors include a son, Carl Edward Murphy Smith of Baltimore; three sisters, Elizabeth Moss of Baltimore, Frances Murphy II of Washington and Carlita Murphy Jones of Buffalo, N.Y.; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 4/16/96

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