Merlene Adair, a retired Baltimore City Community College dean, died of congestive heart failure Feb. 10 at Northwest Hospital. She was 78 and lived in Pikesville.
Born Merlene Elmira Day in Heathsville, Va., she was the daughter of James Day and Elmira Conaway Day. She was a Julius Rosenwald High School graduate and earned a bachelor's degree at Virginia State College in Petersburg. She met her future husband, Carl Merton Adair, at a school dance.
The couple moved to Baltimore in the late 1950s. She began teaching business subjects at Southern and later Northwestern high schools. She earned a master's degree in education from Coppin State College and went on to Baltimore City Community College. She was a professor and department chair before becoming dean of the business and technology division. She retired in 2007.
In 1994, she helped the college attain accreditation with the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs. She also chaired an annual scholarship breakfast.
In 2006, Mayor Sheila Dixon named her to the Commission on Aging and Retirement Education. She had earlier served on the Baltimore City Ethics Board.
She belonged to the Baltimore Chapter of the Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Pierians and the Baltimore chapter of the Virginia State University Alumni Association. She was also a member of the African-American Steering Committee of the Walters Art Museum, as well as an ex-officio trustee of the museum, and a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's outreach committee.
She received the Baltimore City Community College Excellence in Leadership Award and the Harlow Fullwood Service Above Self Award.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Douglas Memorial Community Church, 1325 Madison St., where she sang in the chancel choir and was stewardship board chair.
Her husband of 57 years, Carl Merton Adair, who owned garages and filling stations, died Jan. 20.
Survivors include three daughters, Lori Chambers of Woodlawn, Sherri Adair of Pikesville and Carla Adair Hendricks of Conway, Ark.; a brother, Robert Day of Columbia; a sister, Catherine Harris Flythe of Philadelphia; and eight grandchildren.