Barbara Butcher Gear


Barbara Butcher "Bobby" Gear, 63, a Prince George's County public schoolteacher for 38 years, died of complications related to pancreatic cancer June 25 at Gilchrist Hospice in Baltimore.

Mrs. Gear taught at Montpelier Elementary School in Laurel and Buck Lodge Middle School in Langley Park, touching thousands of lives. She was involved with the Reading Is Fundamental program, which provides free books for children.

She was teaching until May 18, when she became ill and the cancer was discovered, her husband said.

Mrs. Gear was a highly dedicated teacher who teamed with another teacher in the summer of 1992 to create a free summer school -- three mornings a week -- that helped 25 foreign-born children keep their hard-won language skills sharp. The two teachers led their Latin American, African and Asian students through vocabulary-building games, art projects and reading and writing exercises. The teachers volunteered their time and paid most costs themselves.

At the time, Mrs. Gear told a Washington Post reporter, with a good-natured laugh, that some of her charges forgot some of the basics a month after the school year ended. "I was afraid John would go home and forget his alphabet -- which he did." But she said the sacrifice she made to keep his and other children's skills sharp was worth it.

"You'd crawl through fire for them," she said. "You have to respect them because they have been through a lot and they still have remained just kids."

Mrs. Gear, who was born in Cleveland, received a bachelor's degree in art history from Ohio State University and a bachelor's degree in education from University College of the University of Maryland.

She was a member of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, where she supervised the annual Young Writers Contest, and encouraged the society to raise thousands of dollars every year for the RIF program at her school. She was a founding member of the Greater Columbia Fantasy Costumers' Guild and the International Costumers' Guild. She was also a quilt maker who won awards at the local, state and national levels.

Survivors include her husband of 43 years, Alexander Martin Gear of Columbia; two sons, Daniel Melville Gear of Monroe, Va., and John Martin Gear of Lansing, Mich.; a brother; and five grandchildren.

James Forrest King

Air Force Colonel

James Forrest King, 88, a retired Air Force colonel and civilian employee of the Navy, died of heart disease June 23 at Southern Maryland Hospital in Clinton. He lived in Temple Hills.

Col. King, a Baltimore native, graduated from the University of Maryland and joined the Army Air Corps in 1941. He fought in 10 campaigns across North Africa and Italy during World War II and was awarded two Silver Stars.

He served in communications and intelligence during the remainder of his Air Force career and settled in the Washington area in 1964. He retired from the military in 1966 and then worked as a civilian in the Navy Department until he retired again in 1978.

He was the longtime president of the Andrews Air Force Base Skeet Club, president of the Maryland Skeet Association, president and secretary of the John Hanson chapter of Sons of the American Revolution and longtime chairman of the SAR's ROTC awards committee for Maryland.

His wife of 49 years, Carolyn Prout King, died in 1995.

Survivors include four children, James Forrest King Jr. of Washington, Dr. Sallie Behn King of Harrisonburg, Va., Caroline King Toole of Climax Springs, Mo., and Mollie Merrick King of Owings; and seven grandchildren.