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