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Mattie Jackson, 100, Dunbar teacher


Mattie Martin Connor Jackson, a retired business teacher who taught for 35 years at Baltimore's Dunbar High School and was the wife of Coppin State College's first president, died Wednesday of pneumonia at Jefferson Nursing Home in Arlington, Va.

Mrs. Jackson, who was 100, retired from the city school system in 1961.

She had lived in Baltimore for 66 years, a number of them in the Morgan Park section, near Morgan State University. In 1992, she moved to an extended-care facility in Alexandria, Va.

"The children just loved her," said retired teacher and friend Catherine Adams of Baltimore. "She always encouraged perfection from her students, and I never saw her angry. She even helped out needy students by giving them rooms in her home and clothes. She was really interested in the welfare of her students."

The centenarian was a granddaughter of Alabama slaves and the daughter of a Baptist minister. She was born into a family of eight brothers and sisters in Faunsdale, Ala., and grew up in Selma, Ala. In 1914, she earned her bachelor's degree in business administration from Oberlin College in Ohio.

"Her father, James A. Martin, and her mother, Susie A. Martin, placed a great deal of emphasis on education," said Dr. Henry Martin, a nephew who lives in Richmond, Va. "Her four brothers became physicians, and her sisters all were college graduates."

Dr. Martin said his aunt "was always proud of the fact that she was able to help young people get started in the world."

"She was ever still the teacher," he continued. In the past two years, people in the Virginia places she lived "were amazed how she took great delight in correcting the various misspellings that found their way into crossword puzzles completed by the residents."

She moved to Richmond after her 1923 marriage to Dr. Miles W. Connor, a teacher at Virginia State College in Petersburg.

Then, in 1926, they moved to West Madison Avenue in Baltimore, when Dr. Connor was appointed principal of the Colored Teachers Training School, which evolved into Coppin Normal School, then Coppin State College.

Dr. Connor, the college's first president, retired in 1956 and died a year later.

In 1975, she and Dr. Robert Jackson, a physician, were married. He died in 1981.

An adopted daughter, Dr. Bertha M. Martin of Washington, D.C., recalled that Mrs. Jackson "was protective of her actual age and offered no explanations or secrets to her longevity." But, Dr. Martin added: "She started each day with a teaspoonful of brandy in her coffee."

She enjoyed spending summers until recent years in West Cape May, N.J., at a home she purchased in 1947.

She was a member of Sharon Baptist Church, Phi Delta Kappa Sorority, and two Baltimore social clubs, the Bon Tons and the GGs.

Graveside services are scheduled for 11 a.m. tomorrow at Arbutus Memorial Park, 1101 Sulphur Spring Road.

In addition to Dr. Bertha M. Martin and Dr. Henry Martin, she is survived by another nephew, Fred D. Williams of Selma.

Memorial contributions may be made to Greater Cape May Historical Society, 508 Jefferson Ave., Cape May, N.J., 08204.

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