Edith C. Gibson, the first Black woman to be named supervisor of secondary art education for Baltimore public schools and later an arts and crafts teacher for the city Department of Recreation and Parks and the Eubie Blake Cultural Center, died Feb. 12 of lung cancer at her home in Cheswolde in Northwest Baltimore. She was 88.
The former Edith Clementine Goodwin, daughter of William H. Goodwin Sr., a mechanic and the first Black man to own an Amoco franchise in Baltimore, and his wife, Edith Koon Goodwin, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised in the 2400 block of Woodbrook Ave. in Baltimore’s Sugar Hill neighborhood. As a youth, she was active in the Woodbrook Neighborhood Association.
Her interest in art stirred early in life when she designed and made jewelry and textile ensembles and even borrowed her father’s clothes to “make unique looks for her wardrobe,” said her granddaughter, Lauren Ashley Edith Alabi of Upper Marlboro.
“I was the oldest and she was next to me and she had to wear my hand-me-downs, which she didn’t like,” said a sister, Reva G. Lewie, a retired art department head at Walbrook High School who lives in Windsor Mill. “She was simply glamorous and I always wanted her to be a movie star. She loved social gatherings and I always called her a social butterfly.”
Because of her flair for clothes, a nephew gave Ms. Gibson the nickname “Hollywood,” family members said.
“Though she was always prepared for business, she dressed for the runway,” her granddaughter said.
A Frederick Douglass High School graduate, she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1957 from what is now Morgan State University, where she was a member of the Alpha Delta chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
Because African Americans were not allowed to attend the University of Maryland to earn master’s degrees, they were sent out of state at taxpayer expense to attend on weekends and during the summer months such institutions as Columbia University in New York City, from which Ms. Gibson earned a master’s degree in art education.
“We didn’t have much money, but we had a lot of fun and a wonderful time growing up. In those days, we had to take a rest in the afternoon and we’d sit on the front steps of our brownstone telling stories,” Ms. Lewie recalled of her family’s days in Sugar Hill. “In the 2400 block of Woodbrook Avenue there were 15 teachers and school administrators and our mother wanted us to emulate, mind and respect them. She thought they were good role models for us.”
After teaching for a year at Fayetteville State Teachers College, now Fayetteville State University, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Ms. Gibson began teaching in 1959 in city public schools, and in 1965 she was appointed supervisor of art for secondary schools, a position she held until retiring in 1989. She also conducted numerous workshops and staff development programs for art teachers and held several positions with the Maryland Arts Council.
”She served as a mentor and example to countless educators,” her granddaughter wrote in a biographical profile of Ms. Gibson.
With her sister, Reva, she was active in the national Art Education Association and held workshops and traveled to different sites. At the same time while working in city schools, Ms. Gibson taught arts and crafts for the city Department of Recreation and Parks and at the Eubie Blake Cultural Center.
After retiring, she worked for the Mayor’s Office of Promotion, helping to coordinate major events, including the annual Baltimore Book Festival.