Gladys Elizabeth Wallace, a retired elementary teacher who taught for 37 years at Baltimore's Samuel Coleridge Taylor Elementary School, died Sunday of heart failure at the University of Maryland Medical Center. She was 88.
The Northwest Baltimore resident began teaching in Baltimore in 1931 after moving here from Winston Salem, N.C., where she began her teaching career in 1928 in a segregated school.
When she joined the faculty at Samuel Coleridge Taylor, it was the first school built in the city for black students. She retired in 1969.
"She was an excellent teacher, who truly loved her job," said Thelma Brown of Catonsville, who was one of her students in the 1930s and became reacquainted with her in 1976.
"Oh, was she a disciplinarian," Mrs. Brown recalled. "One day she saw me being beaten up by the school bully and came down there with her yardstick and said to me, 'I want you to stop that! You know better [than to fight], and I'm not going to tell your mother this time, but I will next time.' I loved her for not telling my mother and for that I was forever grateful.
"She was such a kind and loving person and teacher that you never wanted to do anything to hurt her feelings," Mrs. Brown said.
Miss Wallace arrived at school early and stayed late, helping students.
"She instilled pride in you, and she made you want to excel," Mrs. Brown said.
Miss Wallace's sister, Blanche W. Pettiford of Baltimore, recalled, "She never had any time for hobbies. All she thought of was school and teaching her students."
Born in Strugis, Mich., Miss Wallace moved with her family to Fremont, Ohio, when she was 13. She was an honors graduate of Fremont High School and earned a bachelor's degree in education at Wilberforce University in Ohio in 1928.
She played the piano and was a member of the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
She was a member of Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church in East Baltimore for more than 50 years. She had been church clerk and a Sunday school teacher and class leader. She was a member of the Daughters of Allen and the Emergency Circle at the church.
Services will be at noon tomorrow at Trinity AME Church, Hoffman Street and Collington Avenue.
She is survived by four other sisters, Josephine Wallace, Frances W. Lucas and Bernice W. Offer, all of Baltimore, and Ruth A. Brown of Denver; and many nieces and nephews.