Category: San Francisco

At 99, Verlie Mae Pickens Is Still a Leader in the Community

By Anh Le

Ms. Verlie Mae Pickens, who celebrated her 99th birthday in June, has been a resident of San Francisco for 66 years and a community leader in the Bayview and throughout San Francisco.

Verlie Mae Pickens

Verlie Mae Pickens

Ms. Pickens has volunteered at Bayview Adult Health Center, Dr. George Davis Senior Center, Network for Elders, Senior University, Senior Action Network (S.A.N.), and other community organizations.

Senior University was a program held throughout San Francisco, where seniors and adults with disabilities learned such skills as advocacy and lobbying,.

At Senior University, Ms. Pickens attended every class session for several years.  She arranged for refreshments for each class.

One of the proudest moments at Senior University was when Ms. Pickens and the seniors waged a protest and community organizing campaign to force the FoodsCo Supermarket store in the Bayview to stop selling rotten and spoiled foods.

Ms. Pickens remains very active in the programs at the Dr. George Davis Senior Center, Network for Elders, and Seniors and Disability Network.

Every year for the Black Cuisine Feast held at the Dr. George Davis Senior Center, she prepares her famous and delicious peach cobbler pie dessert dish.

She is also active at the Jones Memorial United Methodist Church.

For her 99th Birthday Celebration, Ms. Pickens was honored by Rev. Staci Current, pastor at Jones Memorial United Methodist Church and churchgoers during the Sunday morning service.

A grand birthday party was held for her at the Dr. George Davis Senior Center.

Anh Le served as director of Senior University at Senior Action Network and also worked at the Network for Elders in the Bayview and Hunter’s Point. He is a community organizer and educator, writer and independent journalist.

Courtesy of the San Francisco Post, September 4, 2015 (

Celebrating My 99th Birthday

By Ms. Verlie Mae Pickens

Hello there! This is Verlie Mae Pickens.  I celebrated my 99th Birthday on June 11.

Verlie Mae Pickens

Verlie Mae Pickens

I was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I am a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Alfred Nisby.  My mother’s name is Lillian Lumpkin Nisby.

I am the fourth child of eight.  I am the second daughter, of six girls.

I had such wonderful parents – they were so kind and loving to me, I think because they never thought I would make it to go to school, but I did.

I played tennis, volleyball, and touch football.  I had a bicycle. Growing up in Lake Charles at that time, there were no cars, no paved streets.

I took up piano lessons.  I was not Catholic, but I went to a Catholic school, where you have to pay to go.  The children would fight at the public school.

I graduated from Sacred Heart High School in 1936.

When I was about 17 years old, I played piano for my church choir, until I married at 20 years old, a man out of the choir, Mr. Joseph Henry Anderson.

I divorced him and later married Mr. Pickens.  I only had one son for Mr. Anderson.  My second marriage I had none. Mr. Pickens’ full name is Mr. Samuel Vanburn Pickens.

I moved to San Francisco in 1939.  I came out to help my young brother’s wife.  They begged me to stay out here.  I have been in San Francisco for 66 years and have been in my home now for 63 years.

I have had some wonderful jobs.  I am one of the “Rose Riveter Ladies” who worked at the Lockheed airplane factory in Los Angeles during the war years.

I worked on the “P. 38.” They were the fast planes during World War II.  My job was to do the riveting on the tail end of the plane.

In San Francisco, I worked at Blum’s Bakery, making cakes, pies, and candies.  I also worked at Langendorf Bakery, making breads and rolls, until I retired.

I have worked hard all of my life.  So did my husband Mr. Pickens.  We loved to travel.  We travelled through Mexico and Canada.  We have visited every state in the United States, except for Rhode Island.

I like to volunteer in the community.  I want to encourage everybody, especially all the children and young people and seniors.

We have to give guidance to our children and young people.  Nowadays, some of the children and young people don’t listen to parents or grandparents, and that’s how they get in trouble.

When I was growing up in Lake Charles, my neighbors kept an eye on people.  And my neighbors would look out for the children and young people.  If one of the neighbors said to me, “I’ll tell your mother and father. Before I got home, they already told my parents.”

I’ve seen a lot of changes since coming to San Francisco.  One of them is there were no freeways when I came here in 1939.

I went to a meeting recently, where they said that these companies are building now wherever they can find a piece of land.  For example, they were tearing up Candlestick Park and the parking lot around it to build large apartment buildings and condos.

They are getting millions of dollars for those apartments and condos.  The buyers are coming from other places, buying them up and renting them or renting them out.

I am so deeply thankful to God for All of God’s Rich Blessings, and for giving me a long, happy and healthy life.

Courtesy of the San Francisco Post, September 4, 2015 (