Walter E. Hager, 94, a former president of Wilson Teachers College and D.C. Teachers College and an early advocate of ending segregated public education, died of a stroke June 8 at the Oakmont East nursing home in Greenville, S.C.
Dr. Hager was named head of Wilson Teachers College in 1941. The school was under the jurisdiction of the D.C. Board of Education, and its role was to train white schoolteachers. Miner Teachers College was its counterpart for the training of black teachers under the system of segregation that existed at that time.
In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed segregated public education in its decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The following year, Wilson and Miner were merged to form D.C. Teachers College, and Dr. Hager became president of the new institution. He remained in the post until 1958, when he resigned. D.C. Teachers College is now part of the University of the District of Columbia.
Years before the Brown decision, Dr. Hager was a critic of school segregation. In 1950, he was censured by a citizens group for recommending the merger of Wilson and Miner. The authors of the petition said such a move would be "against established practices here."
After the D.C. school system was integrated, Dr. Hager defended it against critics who said it had suffered a loss in standards.
As a trainer of educators, Dr. Hager belived that teachers should have a broad background in liberal arts, social studies and the physical sciences as well as special training in their particular subjects. He regarded English as the most important subject in the category of general background studies.
Dr. Hager was a native of Bellwood, Neb., and a graduate of the University of Nebraska. He received master's and doctoral degrees in education at Columbia University in New York. During World War I, he served in the Army in France.
He was a school superintendent in Nebraska until the end of the 1920s, when he joined the faculty of Teachers College at Columbia University. He was secretary of the college when he came to Washington to accept the presidency of Wilson.
When he resigned as president of D.C. Teachers College, Dr. Hager spent a year lecturing in West Germany on a Fulbright Fellowship. He then taught at the University of Cincinnati and Springfield College in Springfield, Mass.
In 1962, he returned here to become executive secretary of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. In 1965, he retired, but continued as historian of the association for many years.
Dr. Hager lived in Bethesda until moving to South Carolina in 1986. He was a member of River Road Unitarian Church and of numerous professional organizations.
His wife, Gertrude Squires Hager, died in 1977. Survivors include a daughter, Ruth Hager Petcher of Fountain Inn, S.C.; seven grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
PETER F. GORDON JR.
Peter Frank Gordon Jr., 66, a retired supervisor at the Sears Roebuck & Co. distribution center in Gaithersburg and a former employee at Woodward & Lothrop in Washington, died of respiratory failure June 25 at a hospital in Milford, Del. He had cancer.
Mr. Gordon, who moved to Lewes, Del., from Rockville in January, was born in Takoma Park. He grew up in Washington. During World War II, he served in the Navy in the Pacific.
After the war, he began working at Woodward & Lothrop as a deliveryman. He was a delivery supervisor when he left in 1971 to work at Sears. He retired in 1988.
He was a member of the American Legion.
Survivors include his wife of 42 years, Dorothy Cross Gordon of Lewes; a son, Michael Shaw Gordon of Rockville; his stepmother, Aurora Gordon of Bethesda; a brother, Raymond J. Gordon of Woodbury, N.J.; a sister, Susan Gordon of Beltsville; two half brothers, Paul Gordon of Washington and Daniel Gordon of Gaithersburg; and a grandchild.
HELEN K. TOLBERT
Helen Kane Tolbert, 87, a retired realtor and past president of the Alexandria chapters of the Salvation Army Advisory Board, the United Council of Church Women and the Women's Christian Temperance Union, died June 25 at Goodwin House in Alexandria. She had diabetes.
Mrs. Tolbert was born at Bealeton in Fauquier County. She graduated from Bealeton High School and moved to the Washington area in 1918. She went to work for the Southern Railway and became a bookkeeper.
In 1931, she left Southern to help her brother found R.L. Kane Inc., a building and real estate firm in Alexandria. She became a realtor herself and was secretary-treasurer of the company when she retired in 1972.
Mrs. Tolbert was a founder of what is now the Alexandria Community YWCA and a member of Baraca-Philathea, an interdenominational Sunday School organization. She also was a Sunday School teacher and chairman of the board of deaconesses at the First Baptist Church in Alexandria and a founder of The Religious Book Store in Alexandria.
Her marriage to Scott Colbert Humphrey ended in divorce. Her second husband, Jess H. Tolbert, died in 1964.
Survivors include one a by her first marriage, Scott Christian Humphrey of Alexandria; and two grandchildren.
CHRISTOPHER R. STARK
Christopher Randolph Stark, 81, a civil engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers for 40 years, died of emphysema June 26 at his home in Bethesda.
Mr. Stark was born in Starkville, Miss. He graduated from Mississippi State University.
He joined the Corps of Engineers in 1929 and was assigned to the Memphis district. During World War II, he served on active duty with the Corps of Engineers. He remained in the reserves after the war and retired as a lieutenant colonel in the 1960s. Mr. Stark was assigned in the Washington area in the late 1940s and retired in 1969 as chief of rivers and harbors.
He was a member of All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church in Washington.
Survivors include his wife, Geneva A. Stark of Bethesda; two daughters, Elizabeth Stark Kline and Mary Stark McGeehan, both of Gaithersburg; a brother, William R. Stark of Santa Rosa, Calif.; and a sister, Elizabeth J. Stark of Starkville.
WILLIAM A. PARKER
William A. Parker, 74, a retired foreign service officer with the Agency for International Development, died of cancer June 26 at the Carriage Hill nursing home in Bethesda. He lived in Bethesda.
He joined the State Department in 1945. He was an AID developmental training specialist and served in Japan and Thailand. He was stationed in Vietnam from 1958 to 1962. His last assignment, before retiring in 1979, was in AID's training division here.
Mr. Parker was a native of Baltimore and a graduate of Harvard University. He came here after serving with the Army Signal Corps in Italy during World War II.
He had been a volunteer art teacher for the elderly in area churches. He was a member of the Harvard Club.
Survivors include his wife, Cynthia, of Bethesda; two daughters, Elizabeth Bascom of Alstead, N.H., and Diana Parker of Keedysville, Md.; a sister, Pauline Hoff of Washington; and two grandchildren.