Margaret C. Melvin, 103, cared for 25 foster children


Margaret C. Melvin, a homemaker and mother to 25 foster children, died in her sleep Tuesday at her home in West Baltimore. She was 103.

She was born Margaret Clements in Baltimore and spent all her life in the city.

She attended public school in Baltimore and began working in food services at Marine Hospital and at the Elkridge Country Club in the 1920s.

In 1943, she married Semon C. Melvin. A few years after they were married, the couple began taking in foster children. After her husband died in 1976, Mrs. Melvin continued to look after children in her neighborhood.

"When word got out that she raised all these children, everybody wanted her to take care of their children," said a foster daughter, Shellae W. Blackwell of Yorktown, Va. "She was the mother of the neighborhood."

Mrs. Melvin's difficult experiences as an adopted child led to a desire to help children, Mrs. Blackwell said.

Mrs. Melvin, who was known as "Momma Margaret," would often say that she wanted to make sure that children were not judged on their circumstances and backgrounds.

"She was always willing to help," said Dorothy Harris, Mrs. Melvin's neighbor of 50 years. "She was always ready to give herself to whatever was needed."

Mrs. Melvin credited her longevity to her passion for raising children, Mrs. Harris said.

"She saw Baltimore change - the new technology - and sometimes it was difficult for her to cope with," Mrs. Blackwell said. "The consistency was the kids. That didn't change for her."

Mrs. Melvin was a member of the Blessed Mother Sodality at St. Edward Roman Catholic Church in West Baltimore, and she traveled frequently with the church's senior group.

An avid pinochle player, Mrs. Melvin was part of the Wonder Pinochle Club for more than 50 years. She played every other Wednesday until she turned 102.

"Nobody ever wanted to play with her because she would beat them every time," Mrs. Blackwell said.

A Mass of Christian burial was offered Saturday at St. Edward Roman Catholic Church in West Baltimore.

Other survivors include 15 foster daughters and four foster sons.

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