Los Angeles Times

Oscar Thomas Jobe Jr., educator

Oscar Thomas Jobe Jr., a city public school educator who rose from being a classroom teacher to chief of staff to two Baltimore school chiefs, died Sunday of complications from Parkinson's disease at Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham.

The Mitchellville resident was 71.

"Oscar was highly revered because he knew how to manage schools and work with people," said Walter G. Amprey, city school superintendent from 1991 to 1997, who earlier had been a Baltimore County public school administrator.

"We all called him 'Papa Jobe.' He worked extremely well with people and had the ability to look at everything from all sides," he said. "He was very circumspect and thoughtful, but could forcefully deliver his thoughts and ideas."

"Oscar Jobe was one of the finest educators to have served in the Baltimore public school system," said former Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, now dean of the Howard University School of Law.

"Not only was he a great teacher and principal, he was an outstanding mentor, helping to nurture the careers of leaders in education throughout the state of Maryland," he said.

"His understanding of public policy development also made him a trusted adviser to political leaders in their efforts to obtain sufficient resources to support our schools," said Mr. Schmoke.

The son of domestic workers, Mr. Jobe was born and raised in Nashville, Tenn. He graduated in 1958 from Cameron High School, a segregated high school.

While a student at Tennessee State University, he began a lifetime association with Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, and began participating in the civil rights movement.

Mr. Jobe joined numerous lunch counter sit-ins in Nashville, resulting in his being arrested and jailed.

He graduated from Tennessee State in 1962 with a bachelor's degree in history and political science, and the next year moved to Baltimore, where he began his teaching career at Cherry Hill Junior High School.

Mr. Jobe earned a master's degree from Antioch College, and took additional graduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University, Morgan State University and what is now Loyola University of Maryland.

He later taught sixth-graders at Madison Square Elementary School and then was promoted to community schools coordinator for East Baltimore public schools.

He was assistant principal at Dunbar High School; his principalships included Hampstead Hill Junior High School, to which he was assigned in 1978, and Lake Clifton High School in 1981.

Mr. Job was determined to repair Lake Clifton's image as a dangerous place because of random assaults and occasional shootings that took place before his arrival. He earned a reputation for prowling its halls, "mixing greetings to students with occasional admonitions about outward appearances," according to a 1984 article in The Baltimore Sun.

When he spoke, students listened and responded, the article said.

Mr. Jobe presided over the 1986 merger with Eastern High School and its transformation into Lake Clifton/Eastern, complete with new school colors.

In a 1986 interview with The Sun, he explained that teachers are always criticized whenever anything goes wrong, but "they are the backbone of America and the key to our kids' success."

"I've known Oscar 40 years, and he is a wonderful human being. He's a great friend, fraternity brother and fellow educator," said state Sen. Nathanael J. McFadden, who met him in the 1960s when Mr. Jobe was also heading Project Survival in East Baltimore.

"He was always a proponent for helping youngsters. Oscar wanted to give back to the community, and especially young people," he said.

"At Lake Clifton, he had an Educational Opportunity Program that helped get kids into college. He was a true visionary, and recruited me to run the program," recalled Mr. McFadden.

Mr. Jobe was promoted to assistant superintendent and was chief of staff to Dr. Amprey and to interim Superintendent Robert E. Schiller before retiring in 1998.

After leaving city schools, Mr. Jobe remained in education, working as vice president for Sylvan Learning Systems, until retiring for a second time in 2000.

Mr. Jobe and his wife of 30 years, the former Peggy Jackson, established The Jobe Foundation Inc., a nonprofit that awards scholarships, facilitates teacher and leadership training, and builds schools. Its motto is "It Can Be Done!"

"Right now, we are building a school in Liberia, and we award scholarships to Baltimore City students," said Mrs. Jobe, who is a minister.

Mr. Jobe was a member of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and later Greater Mt. Nebo African Methodist Episcopal Church.

"We worshipped together at Bethel, and he was always pleasantly approachable and had the remarkable ability at making you feel special," said Joan M. Pratt, Baltimore City comptroller.

"At church, he was the epitome of support and never expected anything in return," said Ms. Pratt. "He was gentle, charming and had a quiet demeanor and eloquence. He was a hero to me."

Mr. Jobe, who had lived in Cherry Hill for 48 years, moved to Mitchellville in 1994. He enjoyed taking cruises.

"Mentoring youths was work and play at the same time," said Mrs. Jobe.

A family hour begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, which will be followed by funeral services at 10:30 a.m. at Mt. Nebo AME Church, 1001 Old Mitchellville Road, Mitchellville.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Jobe is survived by a son, Oscar T. Jobe III of Baltimore; three daughters, Kendra Ogunshina, Karen Harvey and Venus Jackson, all of Baltimore; his mother, Myrtle Jobe of Nashville; a brother, Kenneth Jobe of Memphis, Tenn.; a sister, Delores Williams of Nashville; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. An earlier marriage ended in divorce.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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