Dorothy Brown Bascom, pastor’s wife and teacher who owned a stationery business, dies

During a long career in education, Dorothy B. Bascom was a senior teacher, specialist, vice principal and principal.
During a long career in education, Dorothy B. Bascom was a senior teacher, specialist, vice principal and principal.(Handout / HANDOUT)

Dorothy Brown Bascom, a retired school principal and stationery business owner who was the wife of the Rev. Marion C. Bascom, died Oct. 31 at Sunrise of Silver Spring. The former Reservoir Hill resident was 91.

No cause of death was available.


Born Dorothy Mae Brown near Pikesville, she was the daughter of Dora Jane Johnson Brown, a domestic who was later a substitute teacher, and her husband, Alfred Jefferson Brown Sr., an Arundel Corp. heavy equipment operator.

“My mother was an inquisitive but obedient child,” said her daughter, Viviane Charlette B. Thorpe of Silver Spring. “She attended Ms. Vergie De Coursey’s two-room schoolhouse in Pimlico. Because of segregation, the closest public would have been a long way away."

She was a 1945 graduate of Frederick Douglass High School and earned a degree in education from what is now Coppin State University in 1949.

That year she married Charles Brooks. They later divorced.

She began teaching at the Coppin Demonstration School on Mount Street.

“She had a natural gift for instruction,” her daughter said. “She began her life as a champion of the underdog. Her philosophy was that everyone and anyone can succeed if given half a chance and if he or she takes advantage of that chance.”

In more than 40 years of teaching she taught at seven schools, including the Collington Square Elementary, Benjamin Banneker Elementary on Federal Street and Cecil Elementary on Cecil Avenue.

“She earned a master’s degree in early childhood education at what is now Loyola University Maryland at night,” said her daughter. “She had four strikes against her — being black, being female, being pregnant and being from the country.”


Her daughter also said, “She was a quiet warrior in the civil rights movement and hosted marchers as they passed through Baltimore on the way to Washington, D.C.” She participated in the Aug. 28, 1963, March on Washington and attended a follow-up 1973 March on Washington.

She was a member of the Unity Christian Church of Pimlico, First Baptist Church of Pimlico, and Douglas Memorial Community Church, where she met her future husband, the Rev. Marion Curtis Bascom Sr., a civil rights advocate and one of Baltimore’s best-known clergymen. They wed in the living room of their Reservoir Hill home.

She was a chair and member of Douglas’ trustee board. She sang in the chancel choir and belonged to the Women’s Christian Fellowship and the Handcrafters. She was also active with Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland and the church scholarship committee. She sat on the board of Camp Farthest Out in Sykesville and with its accreditation committee and camp kitchen.

She attended the International Council of Community Churches and made friends among its members.

In May 1972 she received an advanced certificate in Early Childhood Education and Guidance from the Johns Hopkins University. When she retired in 1981, she had been a senior teacher, specialist, vice principal and principal.

After leaving the school system, Mrs. Bascom became the co-owner and chief operating officer of MACUBA Papers, a minority-owned business created by her husband. The business was initially located on Fulton Avenue and later moved to Mondawmin and Pigtown. She supplied stationery to the Johns Hopkins Hospital and University, among other customers.


An accomplished cook, she served home-cooked meals for Douglas Memorial parishioners, Baltimore City officials and members of a group who called themselves the Goon Squad, who were active in the front lines of the Maryland civil rights movement.

University of Maryland professor Larry Gibson recalled those meetings at the Bascom Home.

“I was one of the younger ones, in a room that included Vernon Dobson and Wendell Phillips,” Mr. Gibson said. “Sometimes I’d get a tongue lashing. But what I really member was Dorothy’s laugh. She herself was a great community leader and she was also an excellent cook. I really preferred to meet at her home rather than any other place.”

In 1984 she joined the W.E.B. DuBois Circle of black women in Baltimore City.

“She grew to love her association with DuBois Circle members and she gave willingly of her time and talent as they reciprocated by assisting her in her declining years, especially at the loss of her beloved spouse, Marion, in May 2012,” her daughter said.

In 2006 she joined Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church.

She and her husband lived at Park Avenue and Newington Street for many years. She tended a large flower and vegetable garden and kept a rose bed in memory of her father.

She later moved to Sunrise Senior Living in Silver Spring to be closer to her daughter.

“My mother was known for her participation in bingo, Pokeno, knitting, sign language lessons and a storytellers writing workshop," her daughter said. "She encouraged her caregivers to pursue their dreams and to grow beyond assisting the aged. She also appreciated the care she received.”

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1316 Park Ave.

In addition to her daughter, survivors include a stepson, Peter John Bascom of Newport, Rhode island; two stepdaughters, Singleton Bascom Wyche of Pikesville and Bernadette Bascom of Seattle; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Her husband of 35 years died in 2012.