Carolyn Joyce Tyson, a retired Baltimore public school English teacher who fought for integrated classrooms and the preservation of Baltimore neighborhoods, died Jan. 24 at her Guilford home of pulmonary arterial hypertension. She was 74.
Carolyn Joyce McCastlain was born in Little Rock, Ark. Valedictorian of her high school class, she earned a bachelor's and a master's degree in English at Texas State College for Women in Denton.
She met George E. Tyson at the college and married him in 1952.
She left her job teaching junior high school English in Dallas shortly after her husband, who worked in the civil rights division of the Social Security Administration, was reassigned to Odessa, Texas. This was the first of many moves the family undertook in conjunction with Mr. Tyson's job. Mrs. Tyson soon found a job teaching English at a local junior high school.
In 1964, while living in Fort Smith, Ark., she organized an integrated group of women that established a federally funded summer Head Start program there. Her husband said the local school board allowed the women to recruit pupils whose parents did not care whether black and white children sat together in classrooms.
A year later, the family moved to Baltimore. They were in the city for a year when Mr. Tyson's job forced the family to move to Prince George's County, where Mrs. Tyson taught report writing to police recruits.
The family moved to Baltimore County in 1968 and a year later bought a house in the Franklintown neighborhood of Baltimore, where they lived for 35 years. The couple left that house last year and moved into a Guilford condominium.
In 1969, Mrs. Tyson established and supervised a summer Head Start program in Harford County and that fall began teaching English at Southern High School.
The Tysons quickly became community activists who joined the Movement Against Destruction, a coalition of Baltimore neighborhood and community groups opposed to building highways that they said intruded into the city. Mrs. Tyson sparred regularly with city officials when she became president of the group in 1971.
"We both believe in the environment," said George Tyson. "We realize we shouldn't hand our children a degraded world."
Mrs. Tyson left Southern High School after about four years and taught briefly at Cherry Hill Junior High School before spending her last five years in the school system at Frederick Douglass High School. When she left in 1981, she was head of the school's English department.
"She was a bit of a ham," said her husband. "She loved to go up in front of a classroom and expound, but she had those big old boys reading poetry."
Mrs. Tyson spent the next eight years volunteering on neighborhood gardens and on the grounds at First Unitarian Church of Baltimore.
But she couldn't stay away from the classroom. In 1989, she was hired by the University of Baltimore as a writing instructor. When she retired in 2003, she was the coordinator of the school's writing program.
Services will be held 12:30 p.m. Sunday at First Unitarian Church of Baltimore, Charles and Franklin streets.
In addition to her husband, Mrs. Tyson is survived by a son, George M. Tyson; two daughters, Laurel Shue and Evalyn Tyson; and two grandchildren, all of Baltimore.
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