George J. Davenport Sr., 72, teacher for 42 years

August 26, 1999|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,SUN STAFF

George J. Davenport Sr., who taught science and geography in Baltimore public schools more than 40 years, died Aug. 19 at Mercy Medical Center of pancreatic cancer. He was 72 and lived in Roland Park.

Mr. Davenport joined the city school system in 1952 and retired from Highlandtown Middle School in 1994.

Though he was offered administrative positions, he preferred to stay in the classroom, said friends and family members.

They said he took classes on field trips to such places as the United Nations, the Museum of Natural History and the Hayden Planetarium in New York and often bought lunch and school supplies for students from poor families.

"I think our school system would be better if we had more teachers like him," said Charles S. Jones Sr., a former student who runs the print shop at the Maryland Department of Transportation headquarters at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. "Teaching was not a job to him. It was a ministry."

At Sharon Baptist Church in West Baltimore, where he was a longtime member, Mr. Davenport was a tutor in a program run by the church and Gilmor Elementary School.

"He had a desire for children to learn," said Lorenzo E. Foy of Lynn Acres in western Baltimore County, a friend for 20 years who also was in the tutoring program. "He would not spare anything. He had patience. He would do whatever you'd have to do to get a child to understand better, and he would continue until he saw that glow in their eyes that meant they got it. He wanted every child to succeed."

A Baltimore native, Mr. Davenport graduated from Douglass High School and served in the Army. After he was discharged, he attended Morgan State College while working nights as a security guard at the Social Security Administration. He graduated in 1952.

He earned a master's degree in education from New York University and did graduate work and in-service training at Northwestern and Johns Hopkins universities, the University of Maryland and the University of California at Berkeley.

His daughter, Kathryn D. Waters of Baltimore, said he became a teacher after he didn't get into pharmacy school.

"His boyhood dream was to be a pharmacist," she said. "But he became a teacher, and he loved to teach students and explain things to them."

Before moving to Roland Park, Mr. Davenport lived on Presbury Street near Gwynns Falls Park in West Baltimore, where he routinely swept the gutters and shoveled snow from neighbors' steps.

He was an usher, trustee and member of the men's fellowship group at Sharon Baptist, where his father, Herlin G. Davenport, is a deacon.

Allen Meacham of Baltimore, a fellow usher and friend for 40 years, said Mr. Davenport lived his faith.

"He had all the basic things of life, citizenship and good habits that one would like to see in an individual," Meacham said. "The biggest thing he had was the integrity of his own convictions."

In October 1995, Mr. Davenport attended the Million Man March in Washington with his son and grandson and reveled in the "positive spirit of unity with 1 million-plus black men," Mrs. Waters said.

Services will be held at 6: 30 p.m. tomorrow at Sharon Baptist Church, Stricker and Presstman streets.

He also is survived by his wife of 51 years, the former Charlotte Ann Tinsley; another daughter, Pamela A. Bollin of Palmer Park; a son, George J. Davenport Jr. of Baltimore; a brother, Herlin Robert Davenport of Baltimore; a sister, Katherine Wiggins Best of Baltimore; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Miles W. Connor Family Support Center at Sharon Baptist Church, or to the American Cancer Society.


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