Gertrude Wade, the first African-American female principal of a Pittsburgh city school, died Nov. 9 in her home on Race Street in Homewood. She was 90 years old.

Wade received her degree in elementary education in 1944 from the University of Pittsburgh. After landing a job teaching at A. Leo Weil Elementary School, in the Hill District, she decided to go back to the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned a master’s degree in education administration in 1946.


She taught at Weil for 15 years until she was promoted to assistant principal in 1961 and just one year later, during the civil rights movement, she was named the principal of Vann Elementary School in the Hill District. It was there she made history as the first Black female principal in the city school district.

After heading Vann, Wade continued her career as a leader at Larimer Elementary School and later East Hills Elementary.

Not only was Wade dedicated to education and its importance, but also to her community. She spent several decades as a Homewood resident.

Wade married Walton Wade, but they later divorced. From their union, they welcomed a son, Isaac Walton Wade.

A final farewell was bid to Wade on Nov. 17 at Bethesda United Presbyterian Church in Homewood. She asked that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to the church’s ministries.

She is survived by her son Isaac Wade and his wife, Brenda, of Atlanta, Ga.; her cousin Rachel Poole and Robert Synder Mildred; a host of nieces, nephews and friends.

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