Laverne Fair, 93, was born in Baltimore County. Fair loves reading books. But Fair also reminisced about a time when opportunities to attend college were less plentiful.
“I never went to a nonsegregated school,” Fair said. “I wasn’t able to go to college, but I was still able to work myself up to what I would call a decent job.”
Fair completed her high school education at Frederick Douglass Senior High School in Baltimore City in 1948. While winding back the hands of time, Fair recounted her wishes as a young girl who wanted to attend college and become a psychiatrist. Her young mother died because of a health matter when Fair was just two years old.
“I never really knew her,” Fair said. “I was raised by my maternal grandparents in a family home in Baltimore County.”
Fair said that she could not further her education in college because she lacked the help and financial means to do so.
Fair also recounted her step into adulthood and her true first job.
“Recruiters from Johns Hopkins Hospital signed up high school students to work who weren’t aiming to go to college, because in 1948 not that many people were able to go to college because they didn’t have that kind of money,” Fair said.
Her ambitious nature manifested when she was employed for a total of 40 years for Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins University while working her way up the ranks. She started out as a messenger, taking patient’s histories from one place to another as a part of providing paperwork for outpatient services. Her next stop after becoming a messenger was the history room where patients’ histories were put together.
“First, I was just putting histories together. Then, I was typing and became secretary,” Fair said.
She decided to attend a technical school in Baltimore and took typing there. It helped Fair to excel at work. She moved up at work and lent her talents to a clinic where cancer patients were treated. Fair recalls working as a registrar, evolving into a secretary and becoming an administrative assistant.
“I think I found what I wanted to do. I wanted a successful job that I liked,” Fair said.
Along the way, Fair married and had a son. During her second marriage to Sergeant William Fair— a Baltimorean who was serving in the U.S. Air Force — Laverne had an opportunity to live in Germany for three years before returning to the United States. She recalls residing in Omaha, Nebraska and Salina, Kansas after her late husband was stationed in Germany.
“It taught me how to accept other people,” Fair said, recalling that she enjoyed encountering German people.
Laverne separated from William. She eventually returned to Baltimore and resumed working at Johns Hopkins. Laverne retired from Johns Hopkins in 1992 because of the death of her cousin Charlotte Gaither. She was like a sister to Laverne.
“Even in working [at Hopkins] when there was some kind of problem, I never gave up. I never gave into it. I had to find a way to solve that problem,” Laverne said.
Laverne nurtured her spiritual side throughout life’s journey. She stated that in 1972, she began transcendental meditation. Laverne met someone who informed her about a church that incorporated mediation. As a result, Laverne became a member of One God One Thought Center for Better Living, Inc. (OGOT) in 1999. She said that she has served as secretary and helped to run the bookstore since 2003.
“I started there as a volunteer because their secretary didn’t want to work until 5 p.m. every day, so I would take over for her answering the phone. Then, I finally learned their process. When she left, I became the secretary,” Laverne said.
Reverend Bernette Jones, senior minister, OGOT said that Laverne worked as a secretary at OGOT as a paid staff member and volunteer.
She described Laverne as a woman of high consciousness and high integrity who is highly appreciated and respected. Reverend Jones made it clear how Laverne uses her skills to approach organizing the front office while exhibiting excellence, diligence and remaining supportive beyond what the job requires.
“She has been incredibly helpful. She’s the very first person that people encounter when they contact One God One Thought Center and her demeanor is such that it puts people in a comfortable, easy, peaceful, calm mode, so that helps us and it also helps the person who she’s connecting with,” Jones said.
Reverend Jones exclaimed, “Everybody just loves Laverne and I love Laverne!”