Martha Priscilla Phillips Lansey

Martha Priscilla Phillips Lansey was a devoted wife and mother who spent her life lending her talents and devoting her time to her community. Her Dec. 20 death has left a void in the lives of those who love her, but also an enduring legacy for her friends and family to remember.

Benjamin Phillips IV, president of the AFRO and also Lansey’s nephew, described his aunt as “beautiful, classy and kind.”

“She always greeted you with a smile and made you feel that you were so special,” he said. “Auntie wanted you to share what was going on in your world and was so attentive to every word. You could not leave her presence without her kissing your cheek, wishing you well and squeezing a few dollars in your hand with a wink.”

Born on Oct. 6, 1918 to Mary Elizabeth Brown and Frank W. Phillips Sr., Lansey was raised in Anne Arundel County and attended Baltimore City Public Schools. After graduating from Baltimore’s Douglass High School in 1936, she attended Cortez Peters’ Business School, which set the stage for her extensive professional career.

Lansey made history when she was hired for an office position at Archer Laundry. African Americans had never been employed in an office capacity, prior to her hiring. A short time later, she married her high school sweetheart, businessman Edward Gaines Lansey Sr. in 1941.

After working as a bookkeeper for the Druid Laundry, her husband’s family business, she came to the AFRO. During her tenure at the newspaper, she worked as an advertising clerk in the classified ad department.

Carolyn Alston, 73, a former AFRO advertising account executive , described Lansey as a “sweetheart.”

“She was always willing to help people,” Alston said. “She was a really sweet person who also did her work very well. I could not say anything bad about her at all.”

Lansey moved on from the AFRO and later held positions at the YMCA of Central Maryland and the Baltimore City Court of Common Pleas, where she retired in 1983.

When she wasn’t working, she was spending time with her family and providing service to the community.

According to relatives, she made clothes and Halloween costumes for her children. Also, as a member of Baltimore’s Immaculate Conception Church she donated gifts and knitted quilts for the sick. The highlight of her service to the church was her position as the treasurer of the anniversary committee during the church’s 150th Jubilee Year.

Lansey was feted for her service by a host of organizations including the Mother Lange Guild, the Frederick Douglass High School Alumni, the Constant Care Community Health Center and the Ladies of Charity of the Immaculate Conceptions.

She leaves behind four children, Priscilla, Yvonne, E. Gaines Jr. and Patrick Lansey; one granddaughter, Stephanie Clarice Lansey Delgado; one great-grandson and a host of other relatives. Her husband Edward and her son Frank preceded her in death.