Sterling Alphacanos Johnson Sr., 83, city schoolteacher, real estate broker

November 11, 2001|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Sterling Alphacanos Johnson Sr., a real estate broker and educator, died of cancer Wednesday at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson. He was 83 and lived in Morgan Park.

A teacher and later a jobs counselor in the city's Department of Education, Mr. Johnson established and ran a North Avenue real estate business for many years.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Dolphin Street, he began delivering the Afro-American newspaper when he was 9.

He then worked for a grocer and a furrier and helped at the post office. He was also an apprentice sign painter.

He graduated from Douglass High School in 1937 and from what is now Morgan State University four years later.

As a college student, he bought a used Plymouth sedan and earned money transporting fellow students to and from classes from the closest streetcar stop -- at Cold Spring Lane and York Road.

He served in the Army during World War II, including working in telecommunications in Germany.

In the era of racial segregation, when African-Americans were not admitted to the state's graduate school programs, the state of Maryland sent Mr. Johnson to New York University, where he earned a master's degree in education in 1949.

He joined the city school system in 1951 and was assigned to Public School No. 108, an elementary school at Gilmor and Presstman streets.

He subsequently taught mathematics at Lemmel Junior High School and became a jobs placement coordinator at City College before retiring in 1978.

Because school jobs paid little in the early 1950s and he had elderly relatives to support, Mr. Johnson set up a real estate brokerage in a rowhouse in the 1600 block of W. North Ave. A charter member and longtime secretary of Real Estate Brokers of Baltimore Inc., he was one of about a dozen black real estate sales people in the city at the time.

"He was articulate and a great help to young people entering the real estate field," said Baltimore real estate broker James Crockett. "He taught them the techniques of real estate and how to become professionals in the field."

Mr. Johnson sold and leased houses, invested in real estate, and managed property for other owners.

He bowled in three tenpins leagues and enjoyed hunting, boating and fishing. He was a member of the Black Hawks Camping Group.

In 1949 he married Elese McCloud, who died in 1961. He then wed the former Myrtle Bowen, who survives him.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Grace Presbyterian Church, 2604 Banister Road, where he was a member.

He is also survived by two sons, Edwin Sterling Johnson and Sterling Alphacanos Johnson Jr., both of Baltimore; two daughters, Karmen Sterlyne Johnson Smith of Baltimore and Kymberli Sterlene Johnson Speight of Limestone, Maine; and 11 grandchildren. A daughter, Deidre Karen Johnson, died in 1992.

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