John Stanley Lanier, 75, printer who made daily visits to Druid Hill Park

October 04, 2001|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

John Stanley Lanier, a retired printer who made daily visits to Druid Hill Park for more than 30 years, died Friday at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air of a heart attack. He was 75 and had lived in Northwest Baltimore before moving to Edgewood in 1999.

A former printer and Linotype operator for The Boston Globe, The Sun and Baltimore Afro-American, he left the printing business nearly 40 years ago.

In the years after World War II, he studied journalism at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

After he returned to Baltimore in the 1950s, he wrote editorials and was a part-time Linotype operator for the Baltimore Afro-American. He was a printer at Watkins Wells Printing Co. on North Fremont Avenue before taking a job in the composing room of the Sunpapers the 1950s.

"He was one of the first African-Americans in the International Typographical Union," said his daughter, Jacqueline Ruth Lanier of Baltimore. "He was an ardent union organizer and loyal member, but due to the overwhelming pressures of racism and segregation, he was forced to seek counseling for depression."

He was a patient at Perry Point Veterans Administration Hospital in Cecil County for several years. He then returned to Baltimore, where he joined the Baltimore Zoological Society and made visits to Druid Hill Park nearly every day from 1968 until 1999.

"He would leave the family house on Holmes Avenue and spend the whole day at the zoo," said his brother, Arthur Jerome Lanier, who lives in the Mondawmin neighborhood. "He had a great interest in minerals and rocks that were in the park's collection. He did sketches of birds from his memory of what he had seen that day."

Mr. Lanier was a lover of jazz who was a regular visitor to musical performances at the old Club Astoria on Edmondson Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue night spots.

Born in Bath, N.C., and raised in Baltimore, he was a graduate of Carver Vocational Technical High School, where he studied printing.

He enlisted in the Navy during World War II and was assigned to several blimps, taking part in anti-submarine service in the Atlantic. He was an aviation engineer mechanic.

His wife of more than a half-century, the former Mary Elizabeth Porter, died last year.

Services will be held at 11:30 a.m. today at Unity United Methodist Church, Edmondson Avenue and Stricker Street.

In addition to his daughter and brother, Mr. Lanier is survived by a son, John Stanley Lanier of Baltimore; another daughter, Deborah Lanier Morris of Baltimore; a sister, Mary Lanier Buster of Baltimore; five grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

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