Ruth Kinard Lansey, 77, city schools principal, Enoch Pratt librarian

March 18, 2004|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Ruth Kinard Lansey, a former librarian and educator, died of heart failure Sunday at Sinai Hospital. The Baltimore resident, who had lived in Wilson Park for nearly half a century, was 77.

Mrs. Lansey worked a decade for the Enoch Pratt Library and then spent 20 years in the Baltimore City public school system, where she was a teacher and a principal at several elementary schools.

"She was just special to everybody," said Sedonia Merritt, a former fellow principal and longtime friend. "She was a real inspiration."

Mrs. Lansey remained friends with many of her former co-workers long after she retired from the city schools in 1983. They dubbed themselves "the pennies" and would get together for lunch or to play cards, said Anne Lansey of Baltimore, Mrs. Lansey's daughter and only survivor.

Often, Mrs. Lansey and Mrs. Merritt would visit the Arundel on the Bay home of Delores Hunt, another former principal whom both women considered their mentor.

After retiring, Mrs. Lansey taught prekindergarten for another five years at the Christian School of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore. She also remained an active member of Trinity AME Church, where she was a Sunday school teacher.

Mrs. Lansey graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in 1945. She earned her bachelor's degree from Coppin State College and her master's degree from Morgan State University. She later earned an advanced certificate in supervision and administration from the Johns Hopkins University.

Encouraged by relatives who worked for the city school system, Mrs. Lansey -- then a librarian for a branch of Enoch Pratt -- obtained her teaching certificate in the early 1960s and started teaching first grade at Columbus Elementary.

"She loved kids, and she was an avid reader," her daughter said. "Libraries and schools were her comfort zone."

She rose quickly through the ranks, her daughter said, becoming vice principal of Bentalou Elementary, principal of Abraham Lincoln Elementary and principal of James McHenry Elementary. Mrs. Lansey was an effective and caring school principal, Mrs. Merritt said, who always knew how to make people feel special.

Mrs. Lansey married her high school sweetheart, John Edward Lansey III, in 1945. The Baltimore City police detective died in 1983.

In addition to reading, Mrs. Lansey enjoyed culture and music. She contributed to numerous charitable and cultural organizations, such as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Walters Art Museum.

A wake will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. today at Trinity AME Church, 2140 E. Huffman St. The funeral will follow.

A son, John Edward Lansey IV, died in 1966.

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