Janet C. Chalk, po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD OBITUARIES - — Fred­er­ick N. Ras­mussen

Janet C. Chalk, a home­maker, po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist and the­ater buff, died Sept. 4 from heart fail­ure at the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land St. Joseph Med­i­cal Cen­ter. The Lutherville res­i­dent was 89.

The for­mer Janet Barbara Crow was born at home on Rosedale Street in West Bal­ti­more. She was the daugh­ter of Thomas E. Crow, a Broad­way stage tech­ni­cian, and Anna L. Crow, a Ch­e­sa­peake & Po­tomac Tele­phone Co. op­er­a­tor and su­per­vi­sor.

She was a di­rect de­scen­dant of Gen. Sa­muel Smith, who com­manded the de­fense of Bal­ti­more dur­ing the War of 1812.

Raised in West Bal­ti­more, she was a 1948 grad­u­ate of Western High School and re­ceived a bach­e­lor’s de­gree from the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land, Col­lege Park in 1952.

She was an as­pir­ing ac­tress, and when she was 16 she went to New York where she had been “of­fered roles in the orig­i­nal tour­ing com­pany of ‘Ok­la­homa.’ She was the fourth fe­male lead,” said her daugh­ter, Melissa C. Line, a Lutherville res­i­dent and po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant who had been di­rec­tor of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Pol­i­tics Cen­ter at Goucher Col­lege.

How­ever, “her par­ents weren’t about to let her go on a na­tional tour,” said her daugh­ter.

Her the­atri­cal ca­reer came to an end at age 23 when she was in an au­to­mo­bile ac­ci­dent dur­ing an ice storm. She was thrown onto the hood of an on­com­ing truck.

“She sur­vived, but they said she wouldn’t walk again,” Ms. Line said. “She walked again — and wore high heels un­til the end of her life. Then they said she couldn’t have baby, and she had me.”

She worked as a so­cial worker for the city health de­part­ment, and in 1958 she mar­ried Charles Chalk, a Col­lege Park class­mate. They set­tled in Park­ton, and later lived in Tow­son, Rux­ton and Lutherville.

Her hus­band, a Bal­ti­more County pub­lic schools spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion teacher, died in 2007.

Dur­ing the 1970s, Ms. Chalk was ac­tive in Bal­ti­more County in both Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic party pol­i­tics. In 1974, she ran un­suc­cess­fully as the 11th Dis­trict Repub­li­can can­di­date for the state Se­nate.

Ms. Chalk had also been a long­time critic of the county school board.

She ad­vo­cated for an elected board, and led a drive that es­tab­lished a sep­a­rate board of trustees for the county com­mu­nity col­leges.

“She was a great so­cial lib­eral through­out her life and was in­ter­ested in civil rights,” her daugh­ter said.

Ms. Chalk never lost her love of the the­ater; she reg­u­larly trav­eled to Broad­way while also tak­ing in pro­duc­tions at the old Mor­ris A. Me­chanic Theatre and Cen­ter Stage. She was a fan of mu­si­cals and movies.

“She was an in­tel­lec­tu­ally ca­pa­ble per­son who en­joyed read­ing about pol­i­tics, non­fic­tion and cur­rent events. She read in­ces­santly,” Ms. Line said.

A me­mo­rial ser­vice will be held at noon to­day at Hunt’s Me­mo­rial United Methodist Church, West Joppa and Old Court roads, Rider­wood.

Her daugh­ter is her only sur­vivor.

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