Martha Roach

Martha Roach ( )

Martha E. Roach, a retired seamstress and teacher's assistant who was a Sharp Leadenhall community activist, died of pneumonia Saturday at Howard County General Hospital. She was 90 and had lived in South Baltimore.

Born Martha Eleanor Tilghman in Baltimore, she was raised on Laurens Street. She attended Booker T. Washington Junior High School and later received an equivalency diploma.

She was a seamstress at the old Raleigh men's clothing manufacturing plant in Southwest Baltimore for many years. When that business closed, she returned to school and became a teacher's assistant.

Before her retirement in 1988, she worked at Daniel A. Payne Elementary, Federal Hill Elementary, Pimlico Elementary and the William S. Baer School for children with special needs, among others.

Mrs. Roach, who lived on Hanover Street for many years, was a founding member of the Sharp-Leadenhall Planning Committee. She served as co-chair for the renaming of the Hamburg Street Bridge to the Mildred Moon Memorial Bridge.

Family members said she was a close associate of Mrs. Moon, a well-known South Baltimore activist who worked closely with Mayor William Donald Schaefer and city redevelopment officials.

Mrs. Roach was among community members who fought construction of Interstate 95 through her neighborhood. She also lobbied city officials for a new recreation center, townhouses and apartments for the neighborhood.

Family members said she assisted in getting a grant to acquire computers, software, sewing machines and televisions for the center.

Mrs. Roach received a Towson University Distinguished Black Marylanders Award.

She was an active member of Leadenhall Baptist Church and founded a Brownie troop and a Girl Scout troop. She was the 1992 church mother of the year. She also helped bring a science program to her church from Baltimore City Community College.

Funeral services will be at 11:30 a.m. Friday at her church, 1021 Leadenhall St.

Survivors include a daughter, Darlene Dorsey of Hanover; and two grandchildren. Her husband of 52 years, Raymond Roach, a retired maintenance supervisor, died in 1999.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com