Hattie Lucille Myers, 105, church deaconess

November 11, 1999|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Hattie Lucille Myers, for 85 years a deaconess and Sunday school teacher at her East Baltimore church, died Thursday of heart failure at Maryland General Hospital, three days short of her 106th birthday.

Known as Aunt Hattie, she joined First Baptist Church on North Caroline Street about 85 years ago. She was its first female trustee and volunteered her time for many church activities, including Christian education, the choir and flower circle.

"She was the oldest member of the church, and the members looked up to her," said the Rev. Leroy Fitts, pastor of First Baptist. "She was very easy to work with because she was such a pleasant person. She was a role model to the rest of her family."

Born Hattie Lucille May in Griffin, Ga., in 1893, she was the daughter of Mack May, a builder who farmed a small plot of land. The seventh of 12 children, she outlived all her siblings.

One of her brothers left Georgia and enrolled at Howard University in Washington, where he learned to preach. As a young woman, she also traveled to Washington and pursued a career at Freedman's Hospital School of Nursing. Because of bad health, she did not complete her studies.

About 1910, she moved to East Baltimore where other members of her family had located. Three years later she married George Myers, the nephew of Isaac Myers, the 19th-century black businessman who owned a flourishing marine railway -- a type of dry dock where wooden ships were caulked and repaired -- in Fells Point.

The couple lived on Mullikin Street in East Baltimore.

"I remember their home and his chisels with wide blades [that] he used to caulk ships with oakum and tar," said Semuel May, her nephew, who lives in Baltimore. "The house was filled with tools. It was years later that we read about how famous Isaac Myers was."

When her husband died in 1935, she was hired for maintenance jobs with the government -- first at the former main Post Office at Calvert and Fayette streets and later for the Social Security Administration in the Paca-Pratt Building.

In the 1950s, she retired from government work and started a second career -- selling real estate in East Baltimore.

"She learned to drive a car and always had a stick shift," her nephew said. "She continued to drive until a few years ago."

For more than 60 years she and other family members lived in side-by-side rowhouses -- joined by an opening in the backyard fence -- in the 500 block of N. Bond St.

In recent years, she lived with family on Ellamont Street in Northwest Baltimore.

Funeral services were held Tuesday at First Baptist Church.

In addition to her nephew, she is survived by two nieces, Martina May Hubbard of Tampa, Fla., and Cliffereda May Tull of Mantua, N.J.

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