Sondra Elise Banfield Dailey, book publisher, dies

The book publisher, a dancer and former Forest Park High School cheerleading captain, also decorated homes

  • Sondra Banfield Dailey
Sondra Banfield Dailey
March 14, 2011|By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun

Sondra Elise Banfield Dailey, a book publisher who had been active in the 1960s civil rights movement, died of cancer Feb. 27 at her son's Canton home. She was 66.

Born Sondra Elise Banfield in Baltimore, she lived on Springdale Avenue and was a 1962 graduate of Forest Park High School, where she was cheerleading captain. Her father was a Provident Hospital physician; her mother was a social worker and political activist.

"Sondra was the first black cheerleading captain to hold that position, and it was the tradition that she would become homecoming queen. The principal canceled the homecoming position that year rather than have a black queen," said a classmate, radio host Marc Steiner. "She deserved the honor. She was an incredible dancer, a fighter for civil rights and a woman of her time who was also ahead of her time."

As a young woman, she taught Sunday school at the Baltimore Ethical Society on Gwynn Oak Avenue, where her parents were founding members. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Howard University. She also earned a master's degree in business administration from the University of Baltimore.

In her 20s, she performed with dancer George Faison during her years at Howard. She later danced with Joyworks Ministries and was the director of Dance for Joy, the dance ministry of Faith Christian Fellowship in Owings Mills.

"Sondra was vivacious, extremely bright and extraordinarily kind," said attorney William H. "Billy" Murphy Jr., a friend for more than 40 years. "She always put the welfare of others before herself. She came from a wonderful family. She had a strong mother and a strong father. Her parents brought her up in what we called the right way, with exceptional values and integrity."

She was a co-founder of Sandbox Empowerment Group and counseled abused women about making good choices. Family members said she helped them on job interview etiquette and offered guidance on speech, dress and presentation.

During the 1980s, she owned and operated Banfield Design Group, an interior design firm that completed projects for a number of residential clients, businesses and educational institutions in the Baltimore area. Her taste was modern, family members said.

"She was eloquent and elegant," said her sister, Karen Banfield Evans of Baltimore. "She loved her family. Her sons were the light of her life."

In the late 1990s, she joined the Calvert School faculty as a counselor. She wrote a first-grade American history book for the school and a fourth-grade Texas history book for the Calvert curriculum.

"My mother remained poetically obsessed with education and literature," said her son, attorney Jason A.L. Timoll of Baltimore. "She opened doors of opportunity for young students and troubled adults alike. There was a time, long after my brother and I had left the car-pool days, wherein my mother would drive clear across town for two years every morning to pick up a child who had been accepted to St. Paul's school but had no means of transportation to get there. She was an early riser."

From 1992 to 2000, she served on the St. Paul's School board of trustees.

While attending a class reunion in June 2003, she became reacquainted with her high school sweetheart, Dr. Maceo Crenshaw Dailey Jr. They married and lived in El Paso, Texas, where she also worked with charities, including Kids Excel El Paso.

She also founded Loopworks, a hand-knit accessories and specialty clothing business. Her work was featured in a 2004 publication, Interweave Knits magazine.

She was co-founder and publisher of Sweet Earth Flying Press, established in 2008, which published "Boy of the Border" by Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps and "Burning Horses" by Agatha Hoff.

Services were held March 7 at St. Paul's School's chapel in Brooklandville.

In addition to her son, sister and husband of nearly eight years, survivors include another son, Garth Timoll of San Francisco; a brother, Gilbert Leslie Banfield Jr. of Tucson, Ariz.; and another sister, Adrienne Banfield-Jones of Baltimore. Her marriage to Dr. Eli Anthony Timoll ended in divorce.

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