Obituary: Charlotte Schuster Price - October 6, 1912 - December 22, 2013

Charlotte Schuster Price, aged 101, died December 22.  Mrs. Price was a long time DC resident who lived a life of service. Photo: In Memory - Charlotte Schuster Price

COLUMBIA, MD, December 24, 2013 – Charlotte Schuster Price died peacefully at the age of 101 on December 22, 2013 at Sunrise Senior Living in Columbia, Maryland.  She lived a vigorous life of service to the causes of equality, opportunity and civil rights in the District of Columbia. 

She was a devoted activist while her husband Dr. Kline A. Price, Sr., who was only the second African-American physician in the United States to earn certification from the American Board of Urology, practiced medicine.   

In the 1940s, Mrs. Price belonged to an organization of African-American parents, known as Consolidated Parents, which fought for school desegregation in DC.  She and her husband provided financial support for the litigation brought by their neighbor, Charles Hamilton Houston of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which steadily laid the legal foundation for the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954 that outlawed segregated public schools.  As a member of the League of Women Voters, Mrs. Price fought for voting rights for DC residents.  She was very active in the Americans for Democratic Action and served as vice president of the Washington chapter.     

The daughter of Alfred Ernest Schuster and Cora Hawley Schuster, Charlotte Price was born on October 6, 1912, in New Haven, Connecticut.  She grew up in nearby West Haven.   In 1935, she married Dr. Price. They spent their entire married lives in Washington DC.  

During World War II after her sons reached elementary and nursery school age, she returned to Howard University to earn a B.A. degree.  Her professors at Howard included renowned historian John Hope Franklin and Ralph Bunche, who subsequently won the Nobel Prize for Peace. 

Years later, in her mid-50s, she transformed herself from activist to archivist by earning a Master’s Degree in Library Sciences from Catholic University.  She then worked with her good friend and famed librarian Dorothy Porter at the Moreland Room at Howard University.     

Energetic and indefatigable, Charlotte Price lived for nearly 40 years entirely on her own following her husband’s death in 1973.  A native New Englander, she moved from Washington to Plymouth, Massachusetts, where, at the age of 61, she launched a new career as an archivist at Pilgrim Hall, the historical society there.  She set up the archives and was Curator of Books and Manuscripts for twelve years. 

In 1975-76, she served as acting executive director of Pilgrim Hall.  This was the first full-time job she had held since her early 20s.  The acclaimed “Remember the Ladies” exhibition, which celebrated the nation’s First Ladies, premiered at Pilgrim Hall on her watch.  

In 1978 she moved to the home she and her husband had built in East Falmouth on Cape Cod.  During her years in Falmouth and well into her late 80s, she served as a librarian and archivist for various institutions on the Cape.  She created the archives and served as first archivist at the Falmouth Historical Society and the Woods Hole Historical Museum.  She chaired the long-range planning committee of the Falmouth Historical Society and was a member of its board of directors.  

Mrs. Price spent fourteen years at Cape Cod Community College establishing an archive of documents about Cape history.  In addition she provided archival assistance to the Wampanoag Native American Tribe of Mashpee.  Her work on the Cape led to the publication of three guidebooks:A Guide to the Manuscripts and Special Collections in the Archives of the Falmouth Historical Society and two guides to the archives of the college.        

Ever curious about the world, she traveled with librarians’ groups to the Soviet Union and Machu Picchu in Peru.  She was proud of her St. Croix heritage on her father’s side, studied the island’s history, and often visited there to stay closely connected with her Crucian cousins.     

Charlotte Price’s ancestry is fascinating and historically significant.  She was a direct descendant of Nero Hawley, a black man who fought in the Revolutionary War and served at Valley Forge under the command of General George Washington.  Her great-grandfather was a slave named George Latimer, who with his wife Rebecca escaped from Norfolk, Virginia, to Boston in 1842. 

Abolitionists thwarted his former master’s attempt to recapture him, a celebrated incident that helped spur passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in Massachusetts.  Her great-uncle Lewis Latimer, the noted inventor and member of the Edison Group, was George and Rebecca’s son.  

A lifelong fitness and health food aficionado, Mrs. Price took great pride in being known as “The Walker.”  Many weekends she and her husband went on long hikes beside the C & O Canal.  On Cape Cod she routinely walked along the seaside path from Falmouth to Woods Hole and back, typically outpacing her sons and grandchildren.  She worked, drove, lived in her own home, and shoveled her driveway until she was nearly 90, and continued walking daily until her late 90s.  The combination of optimism and fitness clearly account for Mrs. Price’s buoyant personality and eternally sunny disposition that brightened the lives of family members and friends who were blessed to know her.

Charlotte Price is survived by her son Dr. Kline A. Price, Jr., and his wife Bebe Drew Price of Columbia, Maryland; her son Hugh B. Price and his wife Marilyn Lloyd Price of New Rochelle, New York; seven grandchildren – Kelly Price Noble, Traer Price, Kline Price, III, Dr. Kendall Price, Janeen Price, Kathryn Price and Lauren Price; nine great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews and their families.  

There will be a visitation at 9:00 a.m. followed by a memorial service at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 31st, held at McGuire Funeral Home, 7400 Georgia Avenue NW in Washington, DC 20012. 

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Charlotte S. Price’s name to the “Friends of the Moreland-Spingarn Research Center” at Howard University – www.howard.edu/msrc/giving.html


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