Robin S. Biddison, 95, city teacher, child labor investigator during 1930s

Robin S. Biddison, a former high school teacher who worked to protect children from labor abuse in the Depression era, died of heart failure Thursday at the Edenwald retirement community in Towson, where she resided for the past 11 years. The former Belvedere Square resident was 95.

Born Robin Smith in Reading, Pa., and raised in Wyomissing, Pa., she was a 1929 graduate of Goucher College, where she earned a liberal arts degree and belonged to Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority.


In 1930, she was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation traveling fellowship in vocational guidance. She became an investigator with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, specializing in enforcement of child labor laws.

She traveled with Cornelia Bryce Pinchot, the wife of Pennsylvania's then-Gov. Gifford Pinchot, in a campaign against children being forced to work.


"It was the Depression and she often talked of what she observed on those tours," said her daughter, Robin B. Dodd, former assistant principal of Baltimore's Diggs Johnson Middle School. "She championed the rights of women and children throughout her life."

In 1934, she married Baltimore lawyer Thomas N. Biddison, who served as city solicitor in the administration of Mayor Thomas J. D'Alesandro Jr. Mr. Biddison died in 1958.

Family members said she took an interest in her husband's legal work for the city, including the desegregation of city schools and the return of the Orioles as a major league franchise.

From 1935 to 1937, she headed a survey of young Marylanders. It was called "Youth Tell Their Story" and was based on personal interviews with more than 13,528 people ages 16 to 24. Beginning in 1937, she worked for three years as director of the junior division of the Maryland State Employment Service.

In 1960, Mrs. Biddison became editor of the Goucher Alumnae Quarterly and a member of the college's development staff. From 1964 to 1971, she taught English at Eastern High School.

"She was an independent person, patient, persevering and focused on spiritual values," said her son, attorney Thomas N. Biddison Jr. "She was always proud of her Goucher connections and kept up with college friendships. She was an excellent teacher and was respectful of learning and knowledge."

Mrs. Biddison was a volunteer teacher of English as a second language at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and medical school from 1971 through 1985, tutoring physicians, medical staff members and their families.

"She did a wonderful job, particularly with Asian and Russian doctors and their wives. She had a nice smile for everybody," Robin Dodd said.


A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., where she had been a vestry member, chalicist and Sunday school teacher.

In addition to her son and daughter, survivors include another son, Alan N. Biddison of Richmond, Va.; seven grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.