Beth Caples, librarian and storyteller, dies

January 04, 1991

A memorial service for Beth Caples, who had regularly told stories to children before her retirement in 1973 as head of the Children's Department at the Central Enoch Pratt Free Library, will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. John's United Methodist Church, 216 W. Seminary Ave., Lutherville.

Mrs. Caples, who was 84 and lived on Versailles Circle in Towson, died of heart failure Tuesday at Stella Maris Hospice after being ill with cancer.

A librarian at Enoch Pratt for 35 years, she became head of the Children's Department in 1950. In addition to her twice-weekly story hours at the library, she told stories at the Walters Art Gallery that would tie-in with exhibits at the museum.

She won the library's William G. Baker Jr. Award in 1963 for her work with children. Five years earlier, the Voice of America recorded one of her sessions for broadcast abroad.

Her interest in storytelling began in childhood, she said in a 1951 newspaper article, when she would recite nursery rhymes to the family chickens and make up stories to tell her younger brothers and sisters.

In addition to telling stories to two generations of several families in her years at the library, she spun tales as a volunteer after her retirement, most recently last spring for children at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Ruxton.

A native of Cockeysville who was reared there and in Lutherville, she was a graduate of the Towson High School and what is now Towson State University and earned a bachelor's degree from the Johns Hopkins University.

Mrs. Caples, who resumed the use of her maiden name after a divorce, taught in Baltimore County schools for a time before joining the staff at Enoch Pratt.

She was a member of the Shipleys of Maryland, an organization of the descendants of a 17th-century Anne Arundel County settler.

Mrs. Caples is survived by her son, Rob Caples of Wilton, Conn.; her stepmother, Margaret L. Caples of Timonium; four sisters, Dorothy Thompson of Jacksonville, Fla., Ruth Watson of Timonium, Martha Twining of Glen Arm and Jean Kroll of Mount Washington; and three grandchildren.

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