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Shirley T. Hill, retired Frederick Douglass High School principal, dies

Shirley Mamie Taylor Hill was a lifelong active member of Concord Baptist Church.
Shirley Mamie Taylor Hill was a lifelong active member of Concord Baptist Church.

Shirley Mamie Taylor Hill, the retired principal of Frederick Douglass High School, who was active in her church and community organizations, died of cancer Nov. 27 at Gilchrist Hospice in Towson. The Randallstown resident was 87.

Born Shirley Mamie Taylor in Baltimore, she was the daughter of Elizabeth Marshall, a domestic worker and caregiver, and Walter A. Taylor Jr., a Pepsi-Cola manager.

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She attended Benjamin Banneker School on Greenmount Avenue and met her future husband, Talmadge Hill, in a fourth grade classroom. They were reacquainted as college students.

A 1950 graduate of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, she earned both her Bachelor of Arts and master’s degrees from Morgan State University. At Morgan she was the first recipient of the James Haywood Harrison Award for Outstanding Graduate Students in Education.

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She completed postgraduate studies in education administration at the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, College Park.

She was a Life Member of the Morgan State University Alumni Association.

Ms. Hill joined Baltimore City Public Schools and served as an English teacher, coordinating teacher and department head.

“There seemed to be no one in Baltimore who didn’t know my mother. She was really an icon. She impacted generations of her many students,” said her daughter, Dr. Felicia Hill-Briggs of Owings Mills.

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Ms. Hill was later an assistant principal at Green Spring Junior High School and at Lake Clifton Eastern High School. She was then named principal of Frederick Douglass High School and ended her 42-year career as assistant to the Southern Area superintendent.

“She was an extraordinarily committed educator. She was well organized. She was a planner. She was a person who would show up early for any event,” said another daughter, Talmira Hill DeLena of Bartlett, New Hampshire.

Her daughter said: “She was the first person there, impeccably dressed. As an English teacher, she taught her students meticulous English.

“She taught proper enunciation and impeccable language skills. She carried herself with a sense of self-worth. Her students told her, ‘You inspired me to be the person I am today.’ ”

Ms. Hill served on the Middle States Evaluation Team and was a past chair of the Maryland State Education for Homeless Children Committee.

A friend and fellow teacher, Milton A. Dugger Sr., said: “We met in September 1964 at Clifton Park Junior High School. She was the embodiment of all the people who made the educational system in Baltimore work. She was old school and all about getting the job done. She was a great encouragement-giver to her fellow teachers.”

After retiring from the school system in 1997, she directed the Kennedy Foundation’s Community of Caring Program in 16 Baltimore high schools. She was a member of the Maryland State Personnel Association.

Ms. Hill grew up in Concord Baptist Church, where her parents, grandparents, and aunts were charter members.

A church resolution said Ms. Hill loved her church and attended Sunday school, became its secretary, and later Sunday school teacher. She also held numerous offices in the church and was leader of a Girl Scouts troop.

She also sang on the Sanctuary Choir and was chair of the church’s Constitution and Bylaws Committee, president of the Senior Matrons and church historian. She was named a Church Legend at Concord’s 80th anniversary in 2017.

Ms. Hill was inducted into the Alpha Delta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. in 1954 and later became a member of its Epsilon Omega graduate chapter. The sorority recently named its annual scholarship after her “so that her works and name will live on in perpetuity.”

Through her sorority she was a graduate adviser to Coppin State University’s Epsilon Kappa Chapter. She chaired Founder’s Day, Salute to Outstanding Young Women and other offices.

Ms. Hill was a recipient of the chapter’s Edna Over Campbell Second Mile Award. She also served on the board of directors for the Epsilon Omega Foundation.

She was a charter member and past president of the Patapsco River Chapter of The Links Inc. Earlier this year she became a platinum member, the organization’s highest honor.

She was a charter member of the Baltimore County Chapter of The Pierians Inc., Jack and Jill of America Inc., and two social organizations, the Que-ettes and the Kompanions.

Ms. DeLena said: “Her civic and community engagement was amazing. We don’t know how she had time to do all she did. No one worked harder than Shirley Hill.”

Her husband, Talmadge L. Hill Jr., a retired attorney, church trustee and history enthusiast, died Oct. 6. They were married for 57 years.

In addition to her two daughters, survivors include a grandson, Julian R. Briggs of New York City.

A funeral was held Dec. 8 at the Vaughn Greene Funeral Home in Randallstown.

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