In Memoriam

Vernon Martin Ingram (1924-2006)

Vernon Martin Ingram, the German-born biologist who discovered the genetic abnormality that leads to sickle cell anemia, died in Boston late last month after a fall. He was 82 years old. Sickle cell anemia is a disease that disproportionately afflicts African Americans.

Dr. Ingram served on the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1958. He held a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of London.

Lena K. Lee (1906-2006)

Lena Lee, one of the first black women to graduate from the University of Maryland law school, has died at her home in Baltimore. She was 100 years old.

For most of her career Lee was a principal at an elementary school in Baltimore. When she retired at age 60, Lee began a career in politics, serving 15 years in the Maryland House of Delegates, where she was known as the “fearless one.”

Lee was born in Alabama, the daughter of a coal miner. She later moved to Pennsylvania where her father found work. She received teacher training at what is now Cheyney University and was hired to teach school in Annapolis, Maryland. While teaching she completed her bachelor’s degree at Morgan State University. Wanting to continue her education, she was denied admission to the graduate school at the University of Maryland. As was the custom at the time, the state of Maryland (and many other southern states) paid for African Americans to pursue graduate training out of state rather than establish segregated graduate schools for Negroes at their own public universities. Lee eventually earned a master’s degree at New York University.

When racial barriers to higher education in Maryland were finally eliminated, Lee became only the third black woman to graduate from the University of Maryland School of Law.

Lydia T. Wright (1922-2006)

Lydia T. Wright, a long-time pediatrician and faculty member at the University of Buffalo medical school, died recently at a nursing home in the Buffalo area. She was 84 years old.

Dr. Wright was a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, but grew up in Cincinnati. She attended the University of Cincinnati and Fisk University before enrolling at Meharry Medical College. After earning her M.D. in 1947 and interning at Harlem Hospital, she married Dr. Frank G. Evans, an internist. The couple opened a practice in Buffalo. While practicing medicine and teaching, Dr. Wright still found time to serve on the Buffalo Board of Education, the first African American to be appointed to the board.

Prior to her death, she was the only person living in Buffalo who had a public school in the city named in her honor.