Florence Dono­hue

Bal­ti­more na­tive worked in the de­fense industry dur­ing World War II and was a com­mu­nity ac­tivist in Ca­tonsville

Baltimore Sun - - OBIT­U­AR­IES - By Jacques Kelly jacques.kelly@balt­sun.com

Florence Dono­hue, a Ca­tonsville res­i­dent who had been a World War II de­fense worker, died Nov. 4 of com­pli­ca­tions from Alzheimer’s dis­ease at El­li­cott City Heath Care Cen­ter.

She was 96 and had lived on Sum­mit Av­enue for more than 50 years.

Born in Bal­ti­more and raised on Oakhurst Place in West Bal­ti­more, Florence Groszer was the daugh­ter of An­drew Groszer Sr., an au­to­mo­bile me­chanic, and Christina Marie Schu­man.

She was a 1938 grad­u­ate of Western High School.

Dur­ing World War II, she de­cided to she wanted to as­sist in the war ef­fort and ap­plied for a job at Rust­less Iron and Steel Corp. on Edi­son High­way. She was orig­i­nally hired as an of­fice sec­re­tary.

“Her sis­ter had been a su­perb sec­re­tary at the plant, and her bosses thought my mother would be good too,” said a daugh­ter, Kath­lyn Miller of Ca­tonsville.

“She strug­gled as a typ­ist on her first day on the job and asked to be trans­ferred to a po­si­tion where she could use her math skills,” said Ms. Miller. “Her bosses at Rust­less switched her to a place where she ex­celled at cal­cu­lat­ing the num­ber of in­gots that were re­quired to make the var­i­ous com­po­nents for wartime ma­chin­ery.

Her daugh­ter said her mother was soon read­ing com­plex or­der forms and es­ti­mat­ing the steel re­quired for each job.

“She loved the job and stayed on un­til she be­gan to raise a fam­ily,” her daugh­ter said.

Mrs. Dono­hue had ex­cel­lent eye­sight and could easily shoot a bull’s-eye with a bow and ar­row. “She dis­played an amaz­ing tal­ent for archery and won many com­pe­ti­tions at the Rust­less archery leagues,” her daugh­ter said.

She met her fu­ture hus­band, James J. “Joe” Dono­hue, at an older sis­ter’s wed­ding.

They mar­ried in1945, 20 days af­ter he left mil­i­tary ser­vice.

They ini­tially lived in Irv­ing­ton on Monastery Av­enue, re­sid­ing in a home con­structed by her hus­band’s un­cle. They later lived in Ed­nor Gar­dens and Go­vans. Mrs. Dono­hue had seven chil­dren, and the fam­ily set­tled in 1960 in Ca­tonsville on Sum­mit Av­enue and Smith­wood Road.

“My mother loved a chal­lenge. The Ca­tonsville Times once had a con­test called ‘Know Ca­tonsville?’ where read­ers had to iden­tify a land­mark home or busi­ness in Ca­tonsville based on a photo of a very small part of the build­ing,” her daugh­ter said. “She won the con­test quite a few times. My mother was a de­tail-ori­ented per­son. She would turn in her en­tries promptly at the news­pa­per of­fice — and would win.

“She could find any­thing,” her daugh­ter said. “She found my brother’s contact lenses when they were in a hedge. She found a wal­let with $600 — it also had mar­i­juana, and she turned it in to the Po­lice Depart­ment.”

As her chil­dren grew, she sold res­i­den­tial real es­tate for Ed­ward J. War­ren and Braw­ley-Re­iter-Bosse. She tu­tored Westowne Ele­men­tary School chil­dren in math and read­ing.

Mrs. Dono­hue also en­joyed at­tend­ing week­end yard sales.

“She en­joyed go­ing around and talk­ing with peo­ple, whether she bought any­thing or not,” her daugh­ter said. She im­mersed her­self in neigh­bor­hood af­fairs. Her daugh­ter said she spear­headed the ad­dress change of the Sum­mit Nurs­ing Home.

“Its ad­dress was con­fused with its com­mer­cial en­trance,” her daugh­ter said. “Trac­tor-trail­ers tended to get lost and end up be­ing forced to nav­i­gate nar­row neigh­bor­hood streets. My mom worked with [Bal­ti­more County] Coun­cil­man Sam Mox­ley and Sen. Ed­ward Kase­meyer so that the trucks al­ways used Fred­er­ick Road, and the prob­lem was elim­i­nated. The neigh­bor­hood streets be­came safer again.”

Mrs. Dono­hue had par­tic­i­pated in a lon­gi­tu­di­nal study at the Johns Hop­kins Alzheimer’s Dis­ease Re­search Cen­ter, and in­structed that her brain be left for science.

A Mass of Chris­tian burial will be of­fered at 10 a.m. to­day at St. Mark’s Ro­man Catholic Church, 30 Melvin Ave. in Ca­tonsville, where she was a mem­ber.

In ad­di­tion to her daugh­ter, sur­vivors in­clude three sons, Thomas Dono­hue of Ca­tonsville, James Dono­hue of Elk­ton and Michael Dono­hue of York, Pa.; three other daugh­ters, Pa­tri­cia Schaum of El­li­cott City, Ann Marie Vi­eth of El­li­cott City and Su­san Marks of Ca­tonsville; two sis­ters, Norma Martin of Nescon­set, N.Y., and Mol­lie Groszer of Dorsey; a brother, Robert Groszer of Cincin­nati; 10 grand­chil­dren and 11 great-grand­chil­dren. Her hus­band of nearly 63 years, who sold Mon­roe cal­cu­la­tors, died in 2008. Florence Dono­hue had ex­cel­lent eye­sight and “dis­played an amaz­ing tal­ent for archery,” a daugh­ter said.

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