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George E. Warner: Pioneering educator

4/7/2010, 4:52 a.m.
A long-standing member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, George E. Warner was one...
A long-standing member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, George E. Warner was one of the first African American public school teachers in Cambridge. He died last month at the age of 85 years old. Warner family

George Edward Warner, one of the first African American public school teachers in Cambridge, died last month. He was 85 years old.

Warner was born in Allston on June 25, 1924 to Elizabeth H. (Sadler) Warner, formerly of St. Kitts and Jacob A. Warner, formerly of Antigua.

Sonny, as he was known to his family, was one of six children in the Warner family: Lillian Kotomort, Doris Warner, Edgar Warner, Henrietta Dottin, Mary Marshall and Alice Beasley. He was the last surviving member.

A graduate of Brighton High School in 1942, Warner immediately took a job working for the U.S. Army loading and unloading ordinance.

He joined the Army in 1944. After training in New Orleans, he was deployed to the European theater. He was scheduled for duty in Asia, but the Japanese surrendered and he was allowed to return to the United States.

After his honorable discharge in 1946, Warner enrolled at the New England Conservatory, earning a Bachelor of Music with a concentration in music education in 1950. He would later earn a master’s degree in Education from the Boston State Teachers College in 1958 and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Educational Administration, also from Boston State.

After graduating from the Conservatory, Warner began his career in the family business — teaching. Following in the footsteps of his father, prior to leaving the Caribbean, and his sister Doris Warner, the first black woman to serve as  a principal in the city Boston, Warner took a job first as a playground teacher and then as a music teacher at the Clarence Edwards Jr. High School in Charlestown in 1950.

During that year, Warner married the former Beatrice Alleyne, and had two sons Richard in 1951 and Allen in 1953. He left the Boston schools to join the Cambridge public school system in 1953, becoming one of the first black teachers in the city and likely the first black male to teach in a Cambridge grammar school. He taught fifth grade at the Houghton School for 12 years.

Warner’s first marriage ended and he later married the former Joyce I. Clark of Pennington, N. J. in 1961. They had a son Clark, in 1963.

In 1965, Warner transferred from the Houghton school to the music department and began a 19-year career as a music teacher, working in schools throughout the system. So beloved was “Mr. Warner” that the annual Cambridge and Rindge and Latin school Spring Concert was dedicated to him when he retired in 1984.

Warner was a life-long member of St. Bartholomew’s Church in Cambridge and served as vestryman, choir member, Sunday School teacher, adviser to the Young People’s Fellowship and member of the religious Education Commission.

Warner was also a member of the Gamma chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity before joining the Iota Chi chapter in Cambridge. He was recognized as the “Omega man of the Year,” an incredible four times. He earned the fraternity’s distinguished service award in 1987 and received a lifetime achievement award in 2001.

In addition to his three sons and daughters-in-law, Shirley Warner, Kimera Warner and Mitalene Fletcher, Warner leaves behind two grandchildren, Kimberly Boone of West Haven, Conn. and Marc Warner of Texas; three great grand-children as well as several nieces, nephews and extended family.