Ann Marshall Nichols, who fought to rid her West Baltimore neighborhood of drugs and gathered children into her home for fun and learning, died at her home Thursday of a suspected heart attack. She was 68.
"First and foremost, she loved children," said City Council President Mary Pat Clarke, in whose office Mrs. Nichols was committee clerk. "We have to make sure all these children continue to receive nurturing from the community. That's what we have to do for Ann."
She said Mrs. Nichols stayed busy sending out birthday cards, keeping in touch with community members and representing the council president around the city.
Mrs. Nichols founded the North Pulaski Street Neighborhood Association and worked with Western District police to rid the neighborhood of drugs.
Western District Officer Charles Connolly called her "very dedicated to the community" and active in reporting suspected crimes and in encouraging her neighbors to call police.
She started a neighborhood "blue light" program, in which residents put blue lights in their windows to show their support for police and their determination to rid their neighborhood of drug dealing and other crimes.
In 1986, Mrs. Nichols began taking "latchkey" children into her home for tutoring and games, using her own money. Gradually, neighbors and teachers began to volunteer their time to the new North Pulaski Street Tutorial Program. In 1991, Coppin State College provided a building for the program.
The city government recently donated a house that the North Pulaski Street Association plans to turn into a recreation center.
"She pulled the neighborhood together," said her daughter-in-law, Kahlila Nichols.
Mrs. Nichols was born and grew up in Waverly. She graduated from Carver Vocational High School in 1945 and attended the Community College of Baltimore. She married Albert Nichols in 1949. He died in 1979.
Mrs. Nichols was devoted to her church, New Psalmist Baptist Church.
Funeral services were to be held at 10 a.m. today at New Psalmist Baptist Church, 100 W. Franklin St.
In addition to her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Nichols is survived by a son, Larry A. Nichols of Randallstown; a brother, Charles A. Marshall of Baltimore; and two granddaughters.