Alma H. Rountree

The Baltimore public school social studies teacher had a career that lasted more than three decades.

September 16, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Alma H. Rountree, a retired Baltimore public school social studies teacher whose career in city schools spanned more than three decades, died Wednesday of complications from diabetes at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The Forest Park resident was 78.

Alma Harriet Blanton was born in Estill, S.C., and raised there and in Frogmore, S.C., where she attended the historic Penn School, which had been established by the Quakers for freed slaves in 1862.

After graduating from the Mather School, a boarding school in Beaufort, S.C., where she was salutatorian of her class, Mrs. Rountree entered Spelman College in Atlanta, where she earned a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1950.

Recalling her college years, Mrs. Rountree often told family and friends they were "among the happiest of my life."

She enjoyed keeping in touch with "the girls" she had known since her freshman year at Spelman and attending class reunions until her health began to fail.

Irene B. Reid, who lives in Baltimore, had been Mrs. Rountree's roommate during their years at Spelman and has remained a close friend for more than 60 years.

"My, she had a phenomenal memory and was a wonderful conversationalist. She loved telling stories and anecdotes about life in Estill and at Spelman, and could recall incidents we had long ago forgotten in such detail," Mrs. Reid said.

She added: "She was my very best friend and I loved her dearly."

After graduating from college, she returned to South Carolina, where she began her teaching career, and enrolled at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, where she earned a master's degree in education in 1954.

In 1956, she married Enlo F. Rountree, a fellow student at South Carolina State, and the couple moved to Baltimore two years later.

Mr. Rountree, an educator and city school administrator, died in 2003.

In 1958, Mrs. Rountree began teaching at Fairfield Elementary School and joined the faculty of Harlem Park Middle School in 1963, where she remained for the next 29 years until retiring in 1992.

"She cared about the children and went all out for them," said Peulah Marie Moore, a retired Baltimore public school science teacher and longtime friend.

"She could be critical and outspoken, but always saw the good side of a situation and was firmly in their corner," she said. "Her students loved and depended on her."

Through the years, Mrs. Rountree continued keeping tabs on her former students, whom she considered members of her family.

"She definitely took an interest in me and made sure I would do something with my life both educationally and professionally," said Carlton C. Douglass , owner and operator of a McCulloh Street funeral establishment.

"I first got to know her when I was in the eighth grade. She followed me through high school, college and mortuary science school," he said.

"She always kept in touch and gave me encouragement. She was just a fantastic lady, and they don't make teachers like that anymore," Mr. Douglass said.

While Mrs. Rountree was averse to joining organizations, she always expressed an interest in the clubs and organizations her friends belonged to and supported their projects.

"When asked about her affiliations, she'd always say, 'I'm an Episcopalian,'" Mrs. Reid said.

Mrs. Rountree had been an active communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity for many years.

The longtime Wentworth Road resident enjoyed duckpin and tenpin bowling at Woodlawn Bowling Lanes. She was also an avid lacrosse, baseball and football fan.

Even though her health was failing, she kept in touch with her large circle of friends.

"Alma kept on sending cards and otherwise noting the special occasions in the lives of her friends," Mrs. Reid said.

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at her church, 2300 W. Lafayette Ave.

Surviving are a son, E. Curtis Rountree of Owings Mills; a daughter, Donna M. Rountree of Forest Park; and four grandchildren.

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