Warren A. 'Al' Sheffey, veteran city schools educator, dies

Warren A. Sheffey
Warren A. Sheffey (HANDOUT)

Warren A. "Al" Sheffey, a retired Baltimore public schools educator and former member of the Baltimore City Foster Care Review Board, died Dec. 14 at Northwest Hospital of complications from a stroke.

He was 87.


"He was a very outgoing and very kind person," said Diane Griffin, an educator who worked with Mr. Sheffey at Harlem Park Elementary and Junior High School. "When word spread through the community of his death, people ... grieved; they looked upon him with fond memories."

"He was completely magnanimous of spirit and very loving and giving," said Dr. Erica K. Taylor, a longtime friend. "I called him 'Uncle Sheffey' because his wife and my mother had been friends since their days at Morgan State, and I remember having my fourth birthday in their backyard."


The son of Powell Burger Sheffey, a longtime science teacher at Booker T. Washington Junior High School, and Lillian Marie Sheffey Johnson, a homemaker, Warren Albert Sheffey was born in Baltimore and raised on Whittier Avenue.

After graduating in 1947 from Frederick Douglass High School, Mr. Sheffey earned a bachelor's degree in education in 1951 from what is now Coppin State University.

He later earned a master's degree in administration supervision from George Washington University, where he also was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He was also a member of Beta Sigma Tau fraternity.

Mr. Sheffey began his teaching career in 1952 as an elementary school educator.

While serving in the Army Signal Corps from 1953 to 1955, he sang with the Mellowairs, a military singing group. He was discharged with the rank of corporal.

Later promoted to vice principal, he served at Gilmor, Matthew Henson and Patapsco elementary schools, and was principal of Highlandtown Elementary School at the time of his retirement in 1991.

"He had been my administrator and a very popular man. He really cared about the children and teachers, and was a joy to be with," said Ms. Griffin, of Owings Mills.

"He was a very kind and compassionate person who implemented policies that made a difference in their lives and learning abilities. He was very professional," she said. "And he was appreciated by all the staff, who looked up to him."

While at Patapsco Elementary School, Mr. Sheffey met and fell in love with another teacher, Carolyn R. Bridgeford, whom he married in 1973.

"He was always willing to help others," Ms. Bridgeford wrote in a biographical profile of her husband. "He believed that there was something worth loving and respecting in everyone. He especially believed that 'children should be given this consideration, and nurtured to the best of their God-given talents and abilities.'"

During the 1990s, he served five years as a member of the Baltimore City Foster Care Review Board.

The couple enjoyed taking students out to dine or on trips, Ms. Bridgeford said.


The couple were members and later ordained elders of Emmanuel Messianic Jewish Congregation in Clarksville. "We also enjoyed the fellowship at Epworth United Methodist Church," Ms. Bridgeford said. "Warren had a strong, firm belief in God and Jesus Christ."

"He really was amazing, generous of spirit, and a deeply spiritual man," Dr. Taylor said. "He was always telling me that he was praying for me, and when he looked at his wife, his gaze was the look of love. It was a very special gaze."

Mr. Sheffey was a sports enthusiast and especially enjoyed basketball and bowling. He liked to garden and do plumbing, carpentry and electrical work. He also worked on cars.

Mr. Sheffey donated his body to the Maryland State Anatomy Board. At his request, there will be no services.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, David Ryan Sheffey of Decatur, Ga.; and three sisters, Barbara S. Leak of Baltimore, Robernette J. Smith of Owings Mills and Dr. Carol S. Parham of Florida. Two earlier marriages ended in divorce.

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