Catherine Taylor, saw Baltimore Fire

May 27, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Catherine Morgan Taylor, who witnessed the Baltimore Fire and took her first airplane ride when she was 75, died April 28 of internal bleeding at St. Elizabeth Home for Nursing Care in Baltimore where she had been a resident since 1985. She was 96.

The former Catherine Morgan was a retired executive secretary. She was born in Westminster and reared in Fells Point, where her ancestral roots went back to her great-grandfather, Capt. William Massicott, who moved there from France in 1790 and worked as a shipwright in local shipyards.

Captain Massicott was a devout Catholic who contributed substantially to the purchase of the land on which the original St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church was built. Today, the church is located at Broadway and Bank Street.

Mrs. Taylor was the daughter of Irving W. Morgan, an electrician for the Western Electric Co. who wired the Domino Sugar factory in South Baltimore.

"She remembered her father during the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 standing on the roof of their home and sweeping off the firebrands so it wouldn't catch fire," said Mary T. Olert, her daughter, who lives in Reisterstown.

Mrs. Taylor attended public and parochial schools. She played the organ at St. Patrick's School during school events. She left school in the eighth grade to go to work to help support her family.

While working, she later "put herself through Strayer's Business College and went to work as a secretary and bookkeeper for Monumental Brewing Co., Lakein's Jewelers on Broadway, Crosse & Blackwell and the Baltimore Spice Co. and the old Hub Department Store. She was what we would call today a workaholic," her daughter said.

"It was while she was working as head of collections at the May Co. that she helped establish the Retail Credit Women's Association. . . . She was a feminist and ahead of her time. She used to come home from work enraged about the inequality of salaries between men and women and the way they were treated."

In 1950, Mrs. Taylor went to work for St. Mary's Seminary on Paca Street. She was executive secretary to the dean, rector, treasurer and faculty.

"At first she was reluctant to apply," Mrs. Olert said. "She said, 'I don't know any Latin and what if father dictates in Latin.?' But she later found out it wasn't a prerequisite. She later learned to write in Latin and every year hand-lettered all of the diplomas that were awarded each year.

"She always worked with a dictionary on her desk and couldn't stand misspellings and bad grammar."

Mrs. Taylor retired the first time in 1964 but rejoined St. Mary's Seminary in Roland Park and worked until the early 1970s.

She took her first airplane ride when she was 75 and flew to Florida. "After I took her to Florida, she got her passport and traveled to Europe, Spain, Portugal and North Africa," Mrs. Olert said.

Mrs. Taylor volunteered at the Little Sisters of the Poor and in the library of Good Samaritan Hospital until she was 83. She was a longtime parishioner and Sodality member at St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church.

In 1925, she married George Taylor, who developed dealerships for Chrysler Corp. and was chief investigator for the War Production Board during World War II. They divorced in 1946.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. today in the chapel at St. Elizabeth Home for Nursing Care, 3320 Benson Ave., Baltimore.

A Mass of Christian burial was offered May 2.

Other survivors include six grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to the Sulpician Retirement Fund, 5408 Roland Ave., Baltimore 21210.

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