Centenarian Believes Bayview Can Rise Above the Changing Times
October 31, 2019Jim Oswald

One of the most iconic visuals on the Bayview Hunters Point skyline is “Bayview Rise,” a mural that adorns a grain elevator and silos located at the Port of San Francisco’s Pier 92.

At 187-feet tall, the primary visual from the horizon line is a soaring heron, which ties to nearby Heron’s Head Park, a successful environmental restoration by the Port. What many people do not know about the Pier 92 installation is that its origins are inspired by a Meals on Wheels recipient.

The mural’s colorful imagery of native cherry plants, shorebirds, and balloons are meant to reflect the Bayview neighborhood’s changing economy, ecology, and community and are a nod to a quote by community activist and Meals on Wheels recipient, Essie Webb. Essie likened Hunters Point to “a balloon waiting to be re-inflated.” The mural was installed in 2014 and continues to be a fixture in the ever-growing neighborhood.

At 101, Essie says the secret to living a long life is to “love others.” The Arkansas native came to San Francisco and the tight-knit Bayview neighborhood in 1944 when she was 25, following her husband, Oscar, who landed a job in the nearby shipyard. Essie raised five children and after they were grown, adopted and raised three boys. In addition to her full-time job as a parent, she was highly involved in her community. She worked for the Economic Opportunity Council as an intake/referral manager, an organization with the mission to provide food to mothers with children living in the city, and who were in need of help with paying their bills.

In the early 2000s, Essie was appointed by the late SF Mayor Joseph Alioto as a Commissioner to the Relocation Appeals Board for the Redevelopment Agency, and served in that role until a few years ago. She was also active with the San Francisco Unified School District.

Essie mourns the changes that have taken place in her neighborhood over the past decade. She says new neighbors don’t get welcomed when they move in, like they did in the old days, and the sense of camaraderie she loved as a young adult is gone. But she doesn’t think all hope is lost – she feels strongly that with the right education, her neighborhood could become a tight-knit community once again.

In 2018, Essie could no longer cook meals for herself in her home due to health reasons. Her daughter, Pat, who lives nearby, helped Essie apply for Meals on Wheels and since then, Essie has been able to maintain her health and remain involved in her community that she’s known and loved for the past 75 years.

In November, Essie will turn 102.

We recognize and are proud to serve Essie and all of our Meals on Wheels recipients who have made such positive contributions to their communities.

Did You Know?

The United States has the most centenarians, with an estimated number of about 80,000. Source: American Society on Aging


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