Wilhelmina Allen Garner, a retired music teacher and college counselor, died of heart failure July 20 at her daughter's San Antonio, Texas, home. She was 90 and had lived in North Baltimore and Morgan Park.
Born Wilhelmina Allen in Franklin, Va., she moved to Baltimore when her father, a minister, was assigned to Leadenhall Baptist Church in South Baltimore. The family lived on Barre Street.
She earned a bachelor's degree from Morgan State University in 1940. While there, she met her future husband, a Lincoln University student, William M. Garner, who became a physician and practiced in West Baltimore for many years.
Because African-American students were not permitted to attend segregated white universities in Maryland, she was given a state scholarship to earn her master's degree in music from Columbia University in 1942. In 1969, she earned a certificate of advanced studies in education from the Johns Hopkins University.
Mrs. Garner taught music at Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore and at Carver High School in Towson. She also led youth choirs at Leadenhall Baptist Church, Union Baptist Church and the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church.
"She played the piano and organ and had a beautiful voice," said her daughter, Wilhelma Garner-Brown of Baltimore, the widow of Baltimore city solicitor and Judge Benjamin L. Brown. "She loved the opera, too, and attended performances at the Lyric and took opera tours in Europe, too. She also traveled throughout Asia."
After raising her family, she became a counselor at Morgan State University and later directed students there in practice teaching. She became professor emeritus in 1984.
"She had a beautiful personality and was always there to help someone," said a longtime friend, Jimmy Laforest of Upper Marlboro. "She was serious in her thinking."
A longtime Morgan Park neighbor, Margaret Owings Driver, recalled, "She was a great mother and tried to be helpful in neighborly situations."
Mrs. Garner was the recipient of numerous civic awards and honors. Mayor Thomas J. D'Alesandro Jr. gave her a Mayor's Award for Contributions in Teacher Education. She also received the Baltimore County Superintendent's Award for Outstanding Music Teacher.
She received Morgan State University's award for Outstanding Contributions in Teacher Education, its Alumni Association Certificate of Meritorious Service and a President's Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Secondary Education. She also held a Maryland State Certificate of Recognition for Contributions in Teacher Education.
Mrs. Garner had been executive secretary of the Virginia Baptist State Convention and was a past secretary-treasurer of one of its organizations, the Expected.
She also devoted time to youth groups, including the Girl Scouts, Jack and Jill, the YWCA and the YMCA.
Mayor D'Alesandro also appointed her to two terms on the Baltimore City Board of Directors for the Department of Public Welfare. She was given a citation by the Maryland legislature for the development of Foster Parents Appreciation Day.
She was a consultant to the admissions committee at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.
After converting to Roman Catholicism, she was active in St. Dominic's Church's outreach ministries. She helped develop a teaching program while serving as a docent for the Maryland Historical Society.
Mrs. Garner also received an honorary doctor of letters from Virginia Seminary and College. She was an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, All Saints Roman Catholic Church and the Northeasterners, a social group of former students who had attended schools in New York.
A memorial service will be held at All Saints Roman Catholic Church in the fall.
In addition to her daughter, survivors include another daughter, Patricia Garner Morris of Sierra Vista, Ariz., and Texas; four grandchildren; and a great-grandson. Her husband of 47 years died in 1989.
email@example.com Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts