Emma Daniels McFarlin (courtesy)




Dr. Emma Daniels McFarlin affectionately called, “Dr. Mc and Ahma” was born on November 14th,1921 in Camden, Arkansas to Fred Daniels and Bessie Bell Daniels. The union produced three children, Shelton Daniels and Fred Daniels, Jr.


Dr. McFarlin accepted the Lord at an early age and was baptized in Camden, Arkansas.


She attended primary and secondary school in Camden, Arkansas. Her parents instilled the value of education, hard work and the importance of owning your own home in both she and her brothers. As a young child these values formed her strong determination to succeed and help others in life. Her father died when she was 5 and her mother passed when she was 16. She then lived with her aunt who owned a restaurant. Her aunt passed away when she was a senior in high school. Helping her aunt operated the restaurant gave her excellent training in business and dealing with people. As a child she was interested in housing, home building and home designs. It never occurred to her as a woman to study architecture. She loved learning and was fascinated with the art of construction.


In 1950, she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Home Economics from Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, two Masters of Science Degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1960 and a Doctorate Degree in Human Behavior from United States International University in San Diego, California in 1976.


Dr. Emma Daniels McFarlin was a true trailblazer. One of her many life commitments was to improve the quality of life for urban dwellers. Her phenomenal career includes being one of the first African American woman to hold high level local, state and government positions.


After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Little Rock, Arkansas she returned to Camden, Arkansas where she taught math and science at the local high school. Exploring her interest in housing and development she began to work for the Little Rock Development and Housing Authority as a supervisor of relocation. Later becoming the Manager of the Low Rent Housing Project, for the Little Rocks Redevelopment and Housing Authority.


She married the love of her life Mr. Earl McFarlin and moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Dr. McFarlin worked for the Milwaukee Public School System as a Home Economics teacher for both middle and high school. She was a Guidance Counselor at North Division and Rufus King High School. Dr. McFarlin worked as a real estate agent for Golden Realty and was a member of the Country Garden Club and the Botanical Garden Society.


She was a proud member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and she served as chapter president from 1960 through 1962, in Milwaukee.


A faithful member of the St. Mark AME church under the leadership of the late Reverend John E Bradford (St. Mark’s is the oldest African American Church in the state of Wisconsin).


St. Mark AME Church was founded by Ezekiel Gillespie. As a member of St. Mark AME Church Dr. McFarlin served in the following capacities: Building Fund Trustee, Missionary Society, Youth Leadership Advisor and Sunday School Teacher.


Dr. McFarlin was an active member of the Milwaukee Urban League and the NAACP.

She loved spending time at her home in Fox Lake Wisconsin with her extended daughter Mavis McCallum and Mavis’ husband Tom and their son Garret.


Dr. McFarlin was an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she received two Master’s Degrees, Educational Counseling and Urban Affairs. She would say, “Never regret a day in your life. Good days give you happiness and bad days give you experience.”


Dr. McFarlin’s love for Northern California drove her to move to San Francisco in 1964 and began working as a high school teacher of Home Economics with the San Francisco School District.


From 1965 to 1970 her career led to a position with the United States Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) as the assistant to then, previous Region 9 administrator. She also held a position with the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) as a regional representative of Compensatory Education. She was hired specifically to help states make good use of funds provided under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Title I was one of the largest educational programs with 1.5 billion annual appropriations allocated to states based on the numbers of low-income children. As the program supervisor for Region 9, she helped develop Compensatory Education Programs in Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Wake Island, and the Pacific Trust territories.


In 1973 Dr. McFarlin accepted the position of Assistant City Manager for the city of Menlo Park, California, the only such woman official with that position in the nation at the time.


While San Francisco was Dr. McFarlin’s first love she fell head over heels for southern California and decided to make Los Angeles her permanent residence. Living in the prestigious Bunker Hills Towers of Downtown Los Angeles and then purchasing her dream home in View Park, California. During the mid-70s she maintained employment in both locations requiring her to comminute between her beautiful home in Los Angeles and her quality urban living apartment in San Francisco.


She enjoyed being the Council Aide to Los Angeles City Councilman Gilbert Lindsay and accepted an academic post as Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Architecture and Urban Planning.


Mayor Tom Bradley recruited Dr. McFarlin as a Special Assistant for Human Resources in the city of Los Angeles, where she developed human resource programs during his tenor as Mayor.


In 1977, Dr. Emma Daniels McFarlin was the first black woman to head the Western Region of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Appointed under President Jimmy Carter by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Patricia Roberts Harris, she assumed the position of Administrator of Region 9 of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the region included Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Wake Island, and the Pacific Trust territories.


In 1981, Dr. McFarlin was appointed by Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee President, Peter V. Ueberroth as Assistant Vice President/Government liaison for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee (LAOOC). Her impressive background in education, government and urban planning was a tremendous asset to the Committee. She was especially talented in devising a variety of methods to make government and business responsive to the needs of the community. President Ueberroth stated, her many achievements in developing human potential with federal, state and city programs proved that one person could truly make a difference.


Deemed as an Urbanologist, Dr. McFarlin served as a professional problem solver throughout the west coast region on a variety of local, city, government, and community assignments.


Secretary Samuel J. Pierce of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Reagan cabinet offered Dr. McFarlin a position to become the Director of Program Standards and Evaluation for HUD. It was her opportunity to improve the life of a lot of people.


Dr. McFarlin loved her family, especially all her brothers, nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews. She had godchildren she adored and a host of adopted children and students that she mentored. Family was everything to Dr. McFarlin, she loved helping and caring for people. She could bring out the best in everyone around her as she encouraged them to develop their goals and seek their dreams. She was smart, kindhearted, humble, giving, determined and very nurturing.


Dr. McFarlin was an avid art collector, gardener, and decorator. She loved to cook and entertain. Her home was filled during the holidays with family, friends and visiting students from all over the country, who fondly referred to her as the “den mother” a role she gladly accepted. She was an active member of the Los Angeles Alumnae Charter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.


Summers were a time for traveling to Fox Lake, Wisconsin and taking her nieces and nephew to the Wisconsin Dells. Christmas Holidays were very festive, the house would be exquisitely decorated inside and outside. Lots of laughter, food, and festivities, everyone was invited. Thanksgiving dinner was a delight and a blessing, she prepared delicious food and anyone who did not have family or a place to go was always invited to her home.


Dr. McFarlin lived an amazing life, she was blessed with love, joy, good health, happiness, a record-breaking historical professional career, and most of all longevity. Blessed to have been surround by the love of her entire family but anointed by her niece/granddaughter Reina Daniels who was her caregiver for decades and NEVER left her side.


She is proceeded in death by her parents Fred and Bessie Daniels, her brothers Fred Daniels, Jr. and Shelton Daniels, and her nephew Ruben Daniels. She leaves to cherish her loving memory her grandniece Reina B. Daniels, nieces Emma Louise Daniels, Media Daniels, and nephew Calvin Daniels. Grandnieces and grandnephews Amber Daniels, Rayven Swayne, Chole and Antonio Barns, Nicolos and Shelton Daniels, Desi Jones, and a host of other beloved nieces, nephews, God children, relatives, friends, colleagues, and students.


Dr. Emma Daniels McFarlin