Hazel Hall lecture room at UMES named for the Latimer family

PRINCESS ANNE — The largest first-floor classroom in Hazel Hall on the University of Maryland Eastern Shore campus has a new name: the George and Frances Latimer Lecture Hall.

Members of the Latimer family were guests of honor during Founders’ Week at a reception to unveil identical plaques at both entrances to Room 1020.

George Latimer, a retired chief of the New York City transit police department, has pledged $100,000 to underwrite a scholarship fund he requested should be used to assist UMES undergraduates interested in African-American history.

Latimer’s donation is a tribute to his late wife, an educator admired for compiling a detailed history of African-Americans on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The Hampton University alumna died Nov. 25, 2010 at age 69; a loss her husband said left a painful void in his life.

“I had to do something to ease it,” he said at the reception.

Born in Seaview, Va., Frances Latimer found great joy tracking down and interpreting records that trace the history of blacks in Northampton County at the southern end of the Delmarva Peninsula.

Her dogged genealogical research inspired the founding of her own publishing company, which produced dozens of works, including a guide to local court records and “Landmarks: Black Historical Sites on the Eastern Shore.”

“One need only look at the volumes of work that she compiled … to know that Mrs. Latimer was a life longer learner with a desire to document the history of Northampton County, Va.,” UMES President Juliette B. Bell said.

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