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Genesta Lane, longtime C&P Telephone employee who also worked with the Afro-American newspaper, dies

Genesta Elizabeth Lane, a retired employee with the former Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co. who also worked with the Afro-American newspaper, died of heart failure in her sleep on Nov. 12 at Augsburg Lutheran Village. The former Pikesville resident was 97.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Druid Hill Avenue, she was the daughter of Harry Gilbert Jr., grandson of Afro-American newspaper founder John H. Murphy Sr., and his wife, Genesta Jenkins.

She was a 1939 graduate of Frederick Douglass High School and obtained a diploma from the old Cortez Peters Business School on Eutaw Place.

When she was a young woman, her father insisted she work for the family newspaper business. For many years she assisted another family member, Frances L. Murphy, with a civic endeavor known as the Afro-American Clean Block Campaign.

She then joined the telephone company and worked in downtown Baltimore.

Her daughter, Harriette Matthews, said her mother was a pioneering black employee at C&P Telephone. She retired about 30 years ago.

She married John Edward Lane Sr., a U.S. Postal Service worker, on Thanksgiving Day 1946.

“They raised four children on Whittier Avenue in Northwest Baltimore,” said her daughter, who lives in Lochearn. “Her front porch was a gathering spot for her children’s friends around the neighborhood.”

Mrs. Lane was also a substitute teacher in Baltimore City schools.

“She had an atypical teaching style and believed in throwing the book aside and doing things her way,” said her daughter.

Mrs. Lane converted to Catholicism and was a member of New All Saints Roman Catholic Church in Forest Park. She was a member of its Women’s Prayer Group and volunteered, visiting nursing homes.

“She maintained a sassy signature style that would become a personality trademark,” her daughter said.

In addition to her daughter, survivors include a son, John Lane of Marshall, Va.; two other daughters, Yvonne Bennett-Niang of San Diego and Gina Lane of Los Angeles; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Her husband of 46 years died in 1990.

Plans for a memorial service at the Augsburg Lutheran Village Chapel are incomplete.

—Jacques Kelly

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