Vera Welch Hall, a retired Baltimore City public school teacher and librarian, died of heart disease Oct. 6 at the Augsburg Lutheran Home. The West Baltimore resident was 86.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Calhoun Street near Franklin Square, she was the daughter of Harry Allen Welch, a chauffeur, and Edna Brown Welch, a homemaker and an early cashier at the Carroll Park golf course.
She was a 1943 graduate of Frederick Douglass High School. As a young adult, she performed with the Arena Players.
Her daughter, Patrice A. Hall of Brooklyn, N.Y., said her mother determined at age 5 to become a school teacher and graduated from Coppin State Teacher's College in 1947.
"She inspired both her students and her family," said a nephew, Baltimore Circuit Judge Martin Welch. "My earliest memory of her is as a 4- or 5-year-old, going with her to school before the students arrived. She prepared her classroom and the bulletin boards after the summer. She left an impression on me of a very dedicated teacher."
Mrs. Hall taught for the next 32 years. She began teaching at an elementary school on Central Avenue near today's Harbor East and was later assigned to the Alexander Hamilton School on Poplar Grove Street and Franklin Square Elementary School.
When graduate schools in Maryland were closed to African-American students because of racial segregation, Mrs. Hall took a 5 a.m. Saturday morning train to Philadelphia to earn a master's degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania.
"She was always proud of having been one of the few black teachers at the time to receive an Ivy League degree," her daughter said. "She loved Penn and held it in high esteem."
In the last 10 years of her career, Mrs. Hall achieved another personal goal, her daughter said. She wanted to become a school librarian. She earned a master's degree at the University of Maryland, College Park.
"When she retired from Baltimore's public school system in 1979, she had amassed legions of students, colleagues and administrators who to this day view her as one of the best teachers they have ever known," her daughter said. "They often returned and visited her. And while her students may not have seen her for many years, they recognized her instantly."
For many years, Mrs. Hall lived on North Calhoun Street in West Baltimore in a household that included her grandmother, mother and daughter.
"I often think about the richness of me being able to live with my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother," her daughter said. "There was always somebody home. They were strong independent women."
Mrs. Hall joined the Metropolitan Methodist Church in 1949 and was an active congregant for decades. She was a church greeter, a Sunday school teacher, and a member of the board of Church Women United. She also joined Seniors on the Go at Union Memorial United Methodist Church.
In 2006, she gave up the home on Calhoun Street and moved to Augsburg Lutheran Home.
"She was an incredible woman and a true role model — a teacher through and through," her daughter said. "She set the highest standards for herself and for those around her. ... She made an impression on all who knew her, simply by being her unique and inimitable self."
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Augsburg Lutheran Home, 6811 Campfield Road.
In addition to her daughter and nephew, survivors include other nephews. Her 1950 marriage to Calvin Hill, a city schools shop teacher, ended in divorce.