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Marilyn P. Hillian Rivers

August 20, 1935 ~ July 2, 2022 (age 86)


Marilyn Paulette Hillian was born on August 20, 1935, in Cheraw, South Carolina.  She was the eldest daughter of eight children born to the late Paul Aster Hillian and Mary Lillian Parson.  The family soon relocated to Chesterfield, South Carolina, where Marilyn and her siblings were raised. 

Marilyn had a true commitment to God and church throughout her entire life.  She accepted Christ at an early age and was a member of Drucilla AME Zion Church in Chesterfield and Mother African Zoar United Methodist Church (previously Tioga Methodist Church) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Marilyn was educated in the Cheraw School system and graduated two years early in 1955. She furthered her education at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina where she met her future husband E. Boykin Rivers and best friend Francis Bryce.  In 1956 she earned her bachelor’s degree in social work and married to Edgar Boykin Rivers on June 23, 1956, at St. Peters Roman Catholic Church in Cheraw.

The couple spent the first years of their marriage in military life at Fort Bliss Texas and Zwiebrucken, Germany.  In 1958 they returned to the United States and resided in Philadelphia.  Marilyn quickly picked up her first professional job in social work as a manager at the East Falls projects community. On March 3, 1964, she gave birth to her first child, E. Bryan Rivers.  Her second son Paul Demal Rivers was born on November 30, 1965.

In the early 1970’s Marilyn worked with the YWCA as a Regional Director and continued her education, graduating with a Master’s degree in social work at Bryn Mawr College of Pennsylvania.  After completing graduate school, Marilyn worked for the Philadelphia School Broad directing an experimental teaching and educational program for young school-aged mothers who became pregnant before graduating high school.  The program was successful which staffed teachers, counselors, and medical professionals that taught school-aged girls how to become mothers while continuing school throughout high school and college.  Marilyn then was recruited to a non-profit social service affiliate as acting director called Women’s Christian Alliance (WCA).  The mission of WCA was to support and facilitate permanence for children and advocate for the empowerment of children, youth, and families.  They provide a variety of services including foster care, education, and family services. Marilyn propelled WCA from a one-floor operation in a small row house building on Broad Street.  She was the motivation behind building a five-story building with onsite offices for welfare services, foster care services, a hands-on child after school center, and a social service cultural center.  She extended other services of WCA to separate locations such as a day care center and a kindergarten-to-eighth grade Charter School on east Cecil B. Moore Avenue.  Marilyn retired from WCA in the mid-2000s.  Due to her hard work ethic and drive she provided counseling services and sat on boards for several organizations such as national social community boards, local community boards, Einstein Hospital, and the board that was faithfully dear to her the “Tioga United Methodist Church”.  Also, she was an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) sorority in the Philadelphia chapter. Throughout her career she collected numerous awards for her dedication and accomplishments that are beyond listing. 

Marilyn was the definition of a true matriarch.  She genuinely loved her family unconditionally and extended passion, loyalty, and deep affection for all that were family and friends.  Marilyn’s love and dedication to the family included managing family reunions, holiday gatherings, and other events which incessantly bonded the family.  We will always remember her for her infectious smile.

On Wednesday, July 6, 2022 God called Marilyn home, where she was preceded in death by her father, mother, husband, Paul her son and brothers John B. Hillian and Daniel Hillian.  She is blessed peacefully to return to her hometown of Chesterfield, South Carolina, where she joins Boykin and Paul in eternal rest.  She leaves the following to cherish her memory: her son E. Bryan (KarenAnn) Sisters: Evelyn Marie Byrd (James), Louise Chapman (Lecosta), Rosena Hillian, Carolyn Evans, and Diane Hillian, best friend Francis Bryce, grandchildren: Shaun Hammonds, Paulette Rivers, Katherine Moore, Ezana Rivers; great-grand Daelen Hammonds, several nephews, nieces and cousins, church family and close friends.  


Submitted With Love,

The Family   

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Public Viewing
July 15, 2022

9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Mother African Zoar United Methodist Church
3259 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19140

Celebration of Life
July 15, 2022

11:00 AM
Mother African Zoar United Methodist Church
3259 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19140

Interment (TBD)

Please note
Mrs. Rivers will be transported to Chesterfield, SC for interment in the Drucilla AME Zion Church Cemetery. The interment will take place on Friday, July 22, 2002 at 1:00 PM.
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