Eleanor Kohn Levy, philanthropist

January 27, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Staff Writer

Eleanor Kohn Levy, a founder of a scholarship program for high school graduates, died Tuesday of a stroke at Sinai Hospital. The Pikesville resident was 93.

She and her husband, Lester S. Levy, were among the founders in 1924 of the Central Scholarship Bureau, which provides financial aid for high school graduates who attend accredited institutions.

"As recently as several weeks ago, she attended a board meeting," said Davina Mindell, who has worked at the bureau and known Mrs. Levy for 30 years.

"She was a generous woman who was very interested in youth and education. She gave of herself and was very philanthropic. Even though she was in her 90s, she retained a sharp mind and never forgot anything," Ms. Mindell said.

Always interested in the welfare of others, Mrs. Levy worked for the Jewish Educational Alliance in the 1920s and for several local and national Jewish organizations in the late 1930s that attempted to relocate Jewish children who were fleeing the Nazi terror in Europe.

She also worked with an adoption agency for African-American children.

From 1940 to 1950, she was a caseworker for the Baltimore City Department of Welfare and was active in the Maryland Council for Social Welfare and the National Conference of Social Work.

She was born on Callow Avenue in Baltimore, the daughter of Benno Kohn, who, along with his brother Louis Kohn and Max Hochschild, founded the Hochschild Kohn & Co. department store at Howard and Lexington streets in 1895.

When she was a child, the family moved to Mount Washington. She was a 1918 graduate of Park School and earned a bachelor's degree from Goucher College in 1922. She continued her education at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work.

In 1922, she married Lester Levy, and the couple made their home on Slade Avenue for more than 50 years. Mr. Levy was the owner of the M. S. Levy Hat Co., that was founded in Baltimore in the 1800s and closed in the 1960s.

Mrs. Levy assisted her husband with his nationally recognized 30,000-piece collection of sheet music that included a rare first edition -- one of 10 copies known -- of "The Star-Spangled Banner," which was donated to the Milton S. Eisenhower Library at the Johns Hopkins University after Mr. Levy's death in 1989. Mrs. Levy was an adviser to the collection.

"She helped Dad with his collection, edited his four books on the subject and helped him with his talks," said a daughter, Ruth Gottesman of Rye, N.Y.

Mrs. Levy was interested in the theater, music, dance and other arts and helped found the Potters Guild of Baltimore in 1955.

A niece, Liz Moser of Baltimore, said, "She loved people staying for lunch -- her home was a gathering place. She was the center of the family for all generations."

"She loved being different," recalled Mrs. Gottesman. "A small cigar, a glass of scotch at 5:30 and good companionship was what she really enjoyed. This was a woman who was still driving her car last week. She lived life to the fullest."

Services were set for 10:30 a.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros. Inc., 6010 Reisterstown Road, with interment in the Baltimore Hebrew Cemetery, 2100 Belair Road.

Mrs. Levy is also survived by three other daughters, Susan Levy Bodenheimer, Ellen Levy Patz and Verna M. Mitnick, all of Baltimore; 11 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to the Eleanor K. and Lester S. Levy Endowment for Special Collections, Milton S. Eisenhower Library, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 N. Charles St., 21218; or the Central Scholarship Bureau, 4001 Clarks Lane, 21215; or Associated Jewish Charities, 101 W. Mount Royal Ave., 21201.

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