Portia Marshall Washington Pittman was honored in 1973 with a silver plaque from the National Caucus of Black Aged. The inscription hailed her for her "pedagogical contributions in music and her illustrious membership in the most elite of all elitist groups, those who are black, female and aged."
Mrs. Pittman, who was almost 90 at that time, planned to stay in that elite group a lot longer. When she fell in her apartment in Northwest Washington a few weeks ago and was taken to a hospital as a precautionary measure, she told a friend that an ambulance would not be necessary.
"Oh, my doctor always tells me I will live to be 100," she said.
In fact, she was not injured in the fall and returned home. That is where she died in her sleep yesterday at the age of 94. She had suffered from a heart ailment in recent years.
Mrs. Pittman knew many wellknown people in her life and accomplished many things. She studied piano and music theory at Bradford Junior College in Massachusetts and with Martin Krause, a student of Franz Liszt, in Berlin in the early 1900s.
She taught music in a high school in Dallas, Texas, for several years. For 25 years after that she directed the choir at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Ala. She called on President Eisenhower in the White House and she was a friend of Alice Roosevelt Longworth. She was interviewed on many of her birthdays.
The interviewers always aksed Mrs. Pittman about her father, for he was Booker T. Washington, the black educator and founder of Tuskegee Institute. The high school at which she taught in Dallas was named after her father and the United States issued a 50-cent piece in the 1940s honoring him.
Mrs. Pittman was always conscious, according to her friends, that no matter what she did in her own right, she was the daughter of a great and famous man.
"So many people assume that because he was famous, I must be wealthy," she said in a 1965 interview. "They keep after me for donations. They borrow from me and never return. I've even been robbed twice, by thieves who must have thought I was loaded. Actually, my only income is a very small pension from the Institute and part of the small royalties from the sale of my father's books."
In 1973, she showed an interviewer a photograph of her father taken shortly before he died in 1915.
"This is my father when he had aged," she said. "He was tired from so many years of working to improve our people."
In 1974, at her 91st birthday party, Mrs. Pittman summed up her own life in these words of advice to those who attended the gathering. "Cultivate what you have to offer."
Mrs. Pittman was born at Tuskegee in 1883. Her father believed that progress for blacks began in blacks' learning trades, and that is what Tuskegee did at that time: it taught trades. Booker T. Washington insisted that his daughter learn sewing, which she did, but he also permitted her to undertake the study of music. That launched her on her career.
in 1908, following her return from Berlin, she married the late William Sidney Pittman, a Washington architect. The couple had three children, all of whom are deceased.
Survivors include six nieces and nephews. They are Booker T. Washington III, of New York. Nettie Washington Douglass, of Bethesda, Louise Washington O'Neal, of Oakland, Calif., Margaret Washington Clifford, of Atlanta, Edith Washington Johnson, of Wilberforce, Ohio, and Gloria Washington Jackson, of Los Angeles.