Marian H. Barclift, a retired Baltimore public school educator and a longtime active member of Sharp Street Memorial United Methodist Church, died Nov. 27 of complications from an epileptic seizure at her Randallstown home. She was 79.
Marian Eileen Holsey, whose father was a letter carrier and mother a teacher, was born in Baltimore and raised in the city's Upton neighborhood.
After graduating from Douglass High School in 1948, she enrolled at what is now Morgan State University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in 1952 in English and history.
She did postgraduate work at what is now Loyola University Maryland, which led to certification as a secondary school counselor.
Mrs. Barclift began her teaching career in 1952 at Dunbar Junior High School and later joined the faculty of Pimlico Junior High School as a counselor.
"She was the most dedicated educator I ever worked with. If we had more educators like Marian Barclift, we'd be much further ahead," said Samuel R. Billups, a retired educator and former principal at Pimlico Junior High.
He recalled that at the time of Mrs. Barclift's tenure at Pimlico, the school had about 2,800 students.
"Marian had an awareness of students and their concerns, and she knew how to reach out to them and get them to put their best foot forward," he said.
Mrs. Barclift was equally adept at working with the parents of her students.
"She was especially good at working with parents who often would come in upset about something. I'd send them to Marian, and within a half-hour, she'd have the problem solved," Dr. Billups said.
"She'd get to the heart of the problem and come to me with a list of recommendations, which were always the correct ones," Dr. Billups said. "Marian was a meticulous and an invaluable educator. She really was a principal's right arm."
From 1975 until retiring in 1990, Mrs. Barclift was a member of the guidance department at Western High School.
"When she came for her interview at Western, she was impeccably dressed and was wearing high heels. She always was impeccably dressed and always wore high heels," said Michael A. Franko, who retired as head of the guidance department at Western.
"She was a Christian lady, and she knew the value of the Christian-Judaic ethic. She had no guile and genuinely cared for people. She was just a fine, fine person who saw the joy in life," he said.
During her years at Western, Mrs. Barclift organized and founded a chapter of the National Honor Society, which in recognition of her work, was named the Marian H. Barclift National Honor Society chapter.
"In 15 years, she managed to put life into the honor society and played a vital role in the life of the school," said Mr. Franko. "She began a tutorial program for the National Honor Society girls to serve as mentors and tutors, making their services known throughout the school."
He recalled that Mrs. Barclift brought a certain warmth to the department that made students feel comfortable and welcomed.
"She had a deep appreciation for each child; every girl was important to her. Whether they came from Cherry Hill or Ashburton, Hampden or Roland Park, she made no distinction. She genuinely cared for each student, and they knew it," Mr. Franko said.
To show their appreciation, students whom Mrs. Barclift had counseled from their freshman to senior year gave her a standing ovation at their graduation.
"They absolutely adored and respected her," Mr. Franko said.
"She always came to school early and stayed late, except every other Thursday when she left early because she had a standing 5 o'clock hair appointment," he said, laughing.
Mrs. Barclift was married in 1953 to Dallas J. Barclift Sr., who worked as a Social Security Administration adjuster.
The couple were both active members of Sharp Street United Methodist Church. After her husband's death in 1987, Mrs. Barclift stepped in and assumed the role of church treasurer, a position that he had held for years.
Mrs. Barclift, who had started teaching Sunday school at Sharp Street when she was 16, later became church school superintendent.
She was also a communion steward, and at her death was president of the Naylor Hughes Fellowship, an organization that stresses fundraising, membership growth and service.
Mrs. Barclift used her conversational skills as a motivational speaker and a story teller. She also enjoyed writing and crossword puzzles.
Mrs. Barclift remained close to her Douglass classmates and edited the Class of 1948 anniversary journal.
"Her last outing with them was on the Sunday before her death," said her daughter, the Rev. Sheridan B. Allmond, who is pastor of Violetville United Methodist Church.
Services were held Wednesday.
Also surviving are a son, Dallas J. Barclift Jr. of York, Pa.; and a grandson.