Wilfred Seaborne, 87, teacher, principal at Baltimore schools

November 07, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Wilfred Malcolm Seaborne, retired principal of Baltimore's Abbottston Elementary School who assisted needy college students, died of a heart attack Oct. 31 at Sinai Hospital. He was 87.

Mr. Seaborne was born in Baltimore and raised on Carrollton Avenue. He was a 1933 graduate of Frederick Douglass High School and graduated with a certificate in education in 1936 from the old Coppin Normal School. In 1948, he earned a bachelor's degree in education from what is now Morgan State University.

"Because black people weren't able to attend graduate school in Maryland in those days, he had to pursue his master's degree out of state," said his wife of 59 years, the former Gwendolyn Walker, a retired city schools supervisor. "He commuted to New York City, where he earned his master's degree in education from New York University in 1953."

Mr. Seaborne began teaching in 1936 at Gilmor Elementary School. He was later promoted to vice principal at the old Chase Elementary School, and he also served in that capacity at Robert W. Coleman Elementary. He retired in 1974 from Abbottston Elementary at Loch Raven Road and Gorsuch Avenue after many years as its principal.

Pauline Paysour, who was Mr. Seaborne's vice principal in the late 1960s and early 1970s, recalled his highly buffed shoes, well-pressed suits and conservative neckties - and his demeanor.

"He was always very thorough, efficient and well-organized. He was always calm, patient and had a great sense of humor," Ms. Paysour said. "He was loved and respected by the pupils, teachers and parents. And he never raised his voice, not even when I did something dumb."

Since 1954, the Seabornes made their home on Longwood Street in West Baltimore.

Mrs. Seaborne - who called her husband by his last name, as did many of his friends - recalled meeting him in the 1930s, when she was a student at Coppin.

"He was teaching at Gilmor Elementary School then, and he'd always be out front with the kids when I walked by in the morning. He'd always say, `Good morning' as I was on my way to class," Mrs. Seaborne said. "He loved telling the story that he'd ask me to come by earlier so he'd have more time to talk with me. Every time he told that story, people would laugh."

Mr. Seaborne was a financial supporter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the United Negro College Fund. With no children of his own, he helped needy students who wished to attend college.

"Seaborne was a very generous man who wanted to give, give and give. He helped pay the tuition to send students on to college," Mrs. Seaborne said.

Mr. Seaborne was a charter member of the No Name Club, a social group. He and his wife enjoyed traveling, especially by steamship. Their favorite ships included the Queen Elizabeth II and the Rotterdam. They also traveled extensively through the Caribbean, Spain and Alaska.

"When his health no longer permitted him to attend church, he listened to services on the radio or TV," Mrs. Seaborne said.

Mr. Seaborne donated his body to the Maryland Anatomy Board.

He was a longtime active member of Douglas Memorial Community Church, 1325 Madison Ave., where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Nov. 21.

Mr. Seaborne also is survived by a brother, Harold Seaborne of Baltimore, also a retired city public school principal; and a niece and a cousin.

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