Naomi Legum, collector and donor of art

March 22, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Naomi H. "Pudgy" Legum, who never said "no" when asked to donate numerous works of art and pieces of furniture to museums, died yesterday of lung cancer at her home on Park Heights Avenue. She was 76.

Mrs. Legum was considered an expert on Colonial furniture. She also collected 19th and 20th century art and donated many important works to the Maryland Historical Society, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walters Art Gallery and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

During the restoration of the White House by Jacqueline Kennedy in the early 1960s, Mrs. Legum and her brother and two sisters donated an 18th century John Shaw secretary in memory of their father in 1962. The piece stands in the Diplomatic Reception Room in the White House. Shaw was an Annapolis cabinet maker.

"She was one of our most important donors of this century," said Gregory Weidman, curator of the Maryland Historical Society.

"In all my years of dealing with her, Pudgy and her sister, Tootsie, were my easiest donors," said Stiles Colwill, former curator of the Maryland Historical Society and now an antiques dealer and art consultant. "She never once said 'no' when I was at the MHS."

William R. Johnston, associate director and curator of the Walters Art Gallery, said, "A few years ago, [Mrs. Legum] called me out to her home to discuss several pieces and suddenly took a great interest in our collection and became a major benefactor of the gallery."

Arnold L. Lehman, director of the Baltimore Museum of Art, remembered Mrs. Legum as "an incredible collector with a wonderful catholic sense of the world of art -- which was so diverse that it went from painting to furniture."

The former Namoi Hendler was the daughter of Lionel M. Hendler, founder of the Hendler Creamery and maker of Hendler's Ice Cream. She was reared on Eutaw Place and Lake Drive.

She was a 1934 graduate of Friends School and attended Edgewood Park Junior College in New York. In 1939, she married Leslie Legum, whose father founded the Park Circle Motor Company in 1921. After turning over the business to his son, Jeffrey A. Legum, Mr. Legum became a prominent real estate developer.

Mrs. Legum and her husband owned 14 race horses, the best known being Technology who ran in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and won the Florida Derby in 1992 and the Broward Handicap in 1993.

During World War II, Mrs. Legum and her sister-in-law, Beverly Sachs, organized the city's first swap shop for children's overshoes.

She served on the board of Levindale Geriatric Center and was active in B'nai B'rith Women of Baltimore, the Park School Parents Association, Associated Jewish Charities and Sinai Hospital.

Graveside services are set for 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Cemetery, 318 Berrymans Lane, Reisterstown.

In addition to her husband and son, she is survived by another son, Douglas H. Legum of Bethesda; a brother, Albert Hendler of Pikesville; and four grandchildren.

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