Irene E. Newhouse

First di­rec­tor of the Anne Arun­del County Of­fice on Ag­ing and com­mu­nity ac­tivist vol­un­teered in many ca­pac­i­ties

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - OBITUARIES - By Fred­er­ick N. Ras­mussen

Irene E. Newhouse, a com­mu­nity ac­tivist, who as the first di­rec­tor of the Anne Arun­del County Of­fice on Ag­ing led the way in mak­ing the Pas­cal Se­nior Cen­ter a re­al­ity and left her mark on Anne Arun­del County ed­u­ca­tional and cul­tural or­ga­ni­za­tions, died Tues­day in her sleep at the Charlestow­n Re­tire­ment Com­mu­nity. She was 94.

“I could say a lot of good things about Irene,” said Joan May­nard, a Linthicum Heights res­i­dent and a long­time friend. “She was quite a force in our Linthicum Heights com­mu­nity and was an im­por­tant fig­ure in help­ing get a li­brary built many years ago. She was ac­tive in Anne Arun­del County on be­half of our com­mu­nity.”

Mrs. May­nard, who re­tired from the Mary­land Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, where she was di­rec­tor of pro­gram de­vel­op­ment, plan­ning and as­sis­tance, praised Mrs. Newhouse’s spirit.

“She was from New Eng­land and had that New Eng­land spirit of ini­ti­at­ing things. When Irene saw a need, she pur­sued it, and didn’t rely on gov­ern­ment to solve ev­ery­thing. If she saw some­thing that needed to be done, then she was the leader in get­ting it done.”

The for­mer Irene El­iz­a­beth Da­mon, daugh­ter of Con­rad Wes­sel­hodt Da­mon, a nurse, and his wife, Irene Fling Bram­ble, also a nurse, was born in Kansas City, Mis­souri, and raised in Sand­wich, Mas­sachusetts, on Cape Cod, where she grad­u­ated from high school.

She was work­ing in Bos­ton near the end of World War II when she met and fell in love with Paul Dean Newhouse. The cou­ple mar­ried in 1945, and af­ter her hus­band pursed his ca­reer as an elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer in Illi­nois and Michi­gan, they moved in 1954 to a home in Linthicum when he took a po­si­tion at West­ing­house Elec­tric Corp.’s Air Arm group, head­quar­tered near the old Friend­ship Air­port, now BWI.

Mr. Newhouse later joined the staff of ECAC-IITRL in An­napo­lis, where he an­a­lyzed the elec­tro­mag­netic com­pat­i­bil­ity of radar sig­nals for the Air Force for 25 years un­til re­tir­ing in 1988.

When the state passed leg­is­la­tion in 1974 that each county would have an of­fice on ag­ing, Mrs. Newhouse was work­ing in com­mu­nity re­la­tions un­der then-Anne Arun­del County Ex­ec­u­tive Joseph W. Al­ton, who ap­pointed her to be the first ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the county’s depart­ment on ag­ing.

When Mr. Al­ton was suc­ceeded by Robert A. Pas­cal in 1974, plans were in­au­gu­rated to build a se­nior cen­ter in Glen Burnie.

“The cit­i­zens of Glen Burnie were adamant that it be in the cen­ter of Glen Burnie and, of course, we knew that the Glen Burnie Cen­ter was go­ing to be a re­al­ity some­day so it could not be where they were in­sist­ing,” Mrs. Newhouse ex­plained in a 2010 in­ter­view with Anne Arun­del County Gen­er­a­tions that cel­e­brated the 30th an­niver­sary of the se­nior cen­ter, which opened its doors in 1979.

“I had gone to Penn­syl­va­nia to look at a se­nior cen­ter that was in a park set­ting, and the minute I saw that I knew ours had to be in a park set­ting,” she said.

Af­ter Mr. Pas­cal viewed the pro­posed site on Dorsey Road near Saw Mill Creek Park in Glen Burnie, he im­me­di­ately en­dorsed Mrs. Newhouse’s se­lec­tion and chose Frank Gant, a Bal­ti­more ar­chi­tect, to de­sign the fa­cil­ity, which be­came known as the Pas­cal Se­nior Cen­ter.

Mrs. Newhouse re­signed from county’s of­fice of ag­ing in 1976 to help with her grand­chil­dren and con­tinue her vol­un­teer work.

“I have been told that I in­tu­itively see peo­ple’s needs and how to meet them,” she said in the 2010 in­ter­view.

“She was just a gen­uinely won­der­ful cit­i­zen and con­nected on all lev­els of so­ci­ety, from those in need and the poor to those who were bet­ter off,” Mrs. May­nard said.

When Mrs. Newhouse’s sons were in school, she con­ducted the pur­chas­ing and pro­cess­ing of books for the Linthicum El­e­men­tary School li­brary, which earned her an ap­point­ment to the Anne Arun­del County Li­brary Board, where she con­tin­ued work­ing un­til she went to work for the county in com­mu­nity re­la­tions.

As chair­per­son she over­saw the build­ing of the Linthicum Li­brary and was on site ev­ery day to check its con­struc­tion. She was the com­mu­nity im­prove­ment chair­man and then pres­i­dent of the Linthicum Women’s Clubs and vice pres­i­dent of the Trav­eler’s Aid So­ci­ety of Mary­land, where she was re­spon­si­ble for the es­tab­lish­ment of the first trav­eler’s aid desk at the old Friend­ship Air­port.

Mrs. Newhouse held ad­di­tional po­si­tions with Per­form­ing Arts of Anne Arun­del County and served as a trustee from 1979 to 1991 of Anne Arun­del Com­mu­nity Col­lege, where she was chair­man and vice chair­man. She was also vice chair­man of the board and chair­man of vol­un­teer per­son­nel for the Red Cross of Anne Arun­del County.

She was pres­i­dent of the Anne Arun­del County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety and played an in­stru­men­tal role in the ac­qui­si­tion of the his­toric Ben­son-Ham­mond House in Linthicum Heights, which dates to the late 1820s.

She also took part in the 1989 ef­fort that brought the 17th-cen­tury por­trait of Anne Arun­dell, Lady Bal­ti­more, wife of Ce­cil Calvert, who died in 1689, and for whom Anne Arun­del County is named, from Eng­land’s War­dour Cas­tle for dis­play at the Ben­son-Ham­mond House.

Mrs. Newhouse was a long­time mem­ber of PEO Women’s Soror­ity and a mem­ber of Linthicum United Methodist Church, where she taught Sun­day school.

“She was out­go­ing and friendly, which was part of her char­ac­ter, and could re­late to peo­ple of all age groups,” Mrs. May­nard said. “And she will­ingly shared her wis­dom, which she had ac­crued though the years.”

She and her hus­band moved to Charlestow­n in 2005. He died two year later.

“She lived a long life and an admirable one,” Mrs. May­nard ob­served. “She was quite a woman.”

Mrs. Newhouse left her body to the Mary­land Anatomy Board, and it was her re­quest that no me­mo­rial ser­vice be held.

She is sur­vived by her two sons, Stephen A. Newhouse of Columbia and David J. Newhouse of Vi­enna, Vir­ginia; five grand­chil­dren; seven great-grand­chil­dren; and two great-great grand­chil­dren.

Irene Newhouse was ac­tive in a num­ber of com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions.

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