Mammie Davis

Mammie Davis (Baltimore Sun / June 22, 2011)

Mammie Lee Davis, a retired professional seamstress and tax preparer, died Saturday of renal failure at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. She was 78.

Mammie Lee Benjamin was born and raised in Florence, S.C. She was a 1951 graduate of Wilson High School.

She worked for Wentworth Manufacturing in Florence, and in 1955, she married Sam Davis Jr. Two years later, the couple settled in Baltimore, and Mrs. Davis went to work as a professional seamstress at Raleigh Manufacturers Inc. on Wicomico Street.

Her husband worked for nearly 40 years for the Chesapeake Paperboard Co. where he was a supervisor at the time of his retirement.

After the company closed, Mrs. Davis continued working as a seamstress, altering clothes for men, women and children from her home. She also made and repaired home accessories such as curtains, bed linens and furniture coverings.

Known for her detailed tailoring, Mrs. Davis created gowns and dresses for dozens of weddings, proms and other special occasions, and was "employed by some women to supply their entire wardrobes," said her son, Samuel C. Davis, assistant managing editor for budget and administration at The Baltimore Sun.

After her three children completed college, Mrs. Davis began working in 1983 as an H&R Block tax preparer and helped manage the company's Mondawmin office. She also taught tax preparation classes and won many awards for her work.

Mrs. Davis retired in 2008 because of failing health.

"Over the years, she used much of her earnings as a seamstress and a tax preparer to help with her grandchildren's private and parochial school tuitions because she was so invested in their education," her son said.

"A woman with an unwavering sense of right and wrong, she valued education and religion, which she instilled in her children. She took great pride in seeing each of her children graduate from college," Mr. Davis said.

Mrs. Davis also sold Avon beauty products and worked as a babysitter in her home, caring for family, neighbors and church members' children.

She had been a member for 44 years of Christian Memorial Church, where she was a member of the Christian Women's Fellowship, the Multipurpose Room Committee and the Gospel Chorus. She donated her seamstress skills for many church projects and prepared taxes for church members.

Mr. and Mrs. Davis worked for years to purchase their home in the 3000 block of Presstman St., and finally realized their dream in 2007 when they made their final mortgage payment.

Two years later, a fire that destroyed their home also took Mr. Davis' life.

Since that time, Mrs. Davis has lived with her son in Owings Mills.

A wake will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at her church, 2001 W. North Ave., which will be followed by a funeral service at 11 a.m.

Also surviving are a daughter, Fran Estelle Wilder of Owings Mills; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Another son, Lawrence D. Davis, died in 2003.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com