Ann McAllister Hughes

Ann McAllister Hughes, an artist who taught art in Baltimore's public schools and had chaired the art department at Forest Park High School, died July 27 of pulmonary failure at Gilchrist Hospice in Towson.

The longtime Randallstown resident was 83.


The daughter of Dr. Singleton Bernard Hughes Sr., a physician, and Blanche Hughes, an educator, Ms. Hughes was born in Baltimore.

She was raised on Druid Hill Avenue and graduated in 1946 from Frederick Douglass High School. She earned a bachelor's degree in 1950 from Howard University and did graduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University and what is now Towson University.


"She was one of the first African-American women to be certified as an architectural drafter in the 1950s for the Air Force and worked in the early 1950s at Brookley Air Force Base in Mobile," said Alexandra "Alex" Hughes, a niece who is senior legislative counsel to Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch.

Ms. Hughes began her teaching career in the 1950s at William Lemmel Junior High School and later joined the faculty of Forest Park High School, where she taught art and became department chair.

In addition to her work at Forest Park, Ms. Hughes developed the art curriculum used in all city schools.

"Ann always said how important it was to bring out the whole child, and in order for a child to be complete, you had to find what their gifts were and nurture them," said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a family friend. "She was a strong advocate of well-rounded education."

Gwen T. Mister, a Baltimore accountant, studied with Ms. Hughes at Forest Park High School in the early 1960s. Their relationship later blossomed into a 50-year friendship.

"She had compassion for children. As a teacher, she cared about each and every one of her kids. She was interested in what we were learning and bridged the gap between parent, teacher and child," said Ms. Mister.

"As a student, you could go to her and tell her anything. She was interested in your point of view, no matter how wrong it may have been. She treated us as adults," said Ms. Mister. "She was always weaving history and music into her teaching of art."

She recalled Ms. Hughes taking her class to the National Gallery in Washington in 1962 to see the "Mona Lisa."


"She was always doing things like that," she said.

Ms. Mister said that Ms. Hughes had a particularly sharp eye for students who were troubled or having difficult times.

"She'd have them come to her house on the weekends, where she kept an eye on them and out of trouble. She steered them in the right direction," she said. "She always had time, even though she had a husband who had a full-time law practice and she was raising [her] children."

While Ms. Hughes was married to James W. McAllister, a Baltimore attorney, she was an active member of the Lawyers' Wives of the Monumental Bar Association of Baltimore.

"It was during a time when African-American attorneys were barred from joining traditional legal associations," said her niece.

"During her tenure, she and other prominent lawyers' wives challenged the Jim Crow environment of the Baltimore electorate. The black political establishment would meet on Saturdays at her home. Trailblazers like Henry G. Parks, Judge George Russell and Judge William Murphy were there creating an inclusive agenda for the black candidates that ran against the Baltimore political machines of the time," said Ms. Hughes.


The couple later divorced; Mr. McAllister died in 1979.

"Ann made it her business to be involved with the Lawyers' Wives. She was constantly bringing life to issues," said Mr. Cummings. "She was also one of the first people to make a call or rally people around and be supportive. She was always a very caring and sharing person."

He described Ms. Hughes as "an extremely positive person."

"She was the life of the party, and when she walked into a room, it lit up," he said. "She was the type of person who was always looking for the positive things in life."

"Ann was always helping me make choices in my life. And she didn't bite her tongue. If she thought I'd messed up, she'd say, 'You messed up, and now you need to fix it,' " said Ms. Mister. "She has been an integral part of my career choices while also being a mother to me and a big sister."

In the 1970s, she established Concern for Children of Maryland, which later became Friends of the Children of Maryland.

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The organization, whose slogan was "Chip In for a Child," raised money for children and children's charities. It also raised funds to send underprivileged children from the city and Carroll, Howard and Baltimore counties to summer day camp.

Ms. Hughes volunteered at the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Art Museum, and was a member of the Pierians, an art organization.

Ms. Hughes was also a working artist who painted impressionistic landscape paintings in oils and acrylics. She also enjoyed drawing in pen and ink.

The former Linden Avenue resident, who later moved to Randallstown, was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in the chapel of Howell Funeral Home, 10220 Guilford Road, Jessup.

Also surviving are three daughters, Leslie McAllister Osborne and Donna McAllister Bailey, both of Baltimore, and Singleton B. McAllister of Great Falls, Va.; and four grandchildren. Her son, James W. McAllister, died in 1975. Her second husband, David Bass, predeceased her.