Maggie Comer Robinson

Maggie Comer Robinson, 88, whose methods of educating children and parents out of the poverty cycle were the subject of a book, a PBS docu and a funk/rock album, died Sept. 29 in an East Chicago, Ind., hospital after a brief illness.

A sharecropper’s daughter from Mississippi, the former Maggie Nichols was uneducated but vowed that her children would not be.

After marrying steelworker Hugh Comer, she raised five children who went on to earn 13 college degrees and more than 30 honorary degrees.

Her Yale U. psychiatrist son Dr. James Comer used her methods of teaching social skills to minority children as the basis for the School Development Program for inner-city youth, also called the Comer Process, which is used in 30 school districts around the country.

Her life was chronicled by her son in the 1988 book “Maggie’s American Dream, ” and by PBS in this year’s docu “The Legacy of Maggie’s American Dream,” hosted by Hugh Downs. She also inspired the funk/rock group Maggie’s Dream, whose debut album of the same name also dealt with her story. Among her survivors are a granddaughter, actress Dawn Comer, and a grandson, Brian Comer, a writer and story analyst with Hollywood Pictures. Her five children and five other grandchildren also survive.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations to the Maggie Comer Robinson Scholarship Fund, Yale U. Child Study Center, P.O. Box 3333, New Haven, Conn., 06510.

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