Agnes Roche Webb, amateur singer entertained other senior citizens

September 02, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Agnes M. Roche Webb, who entertained senior citizens with her singing and who was fiercely proud of her Irish ancestry, died last Friday of cardiac arrest after surgery at Union Memorial Hospital. The Northeast Baltimore resident was 85.

"She would go anywhere where there was a piano player and live music," said her sister, Madeline K. Brengle of Parkville. "She used to go into the Glenmore Tavern on Harford Road, order a drink and begin singing. She'd nurse that one drink all night while singing the old songs."

Mrs. Webb called herself Rose because of the songs she included in her repertoire -- "The Rose of Killarney," "The Rose of Tralee," "Rose of Washington Square," "Second Hand Rose" and "The Roses of Picardy."

She often entertained at the Parkville Senior Center and "was singing right up until a week before she went into the hospital," said her sister. "She even dressed up as Mrs. Santa Claus and sang Christmas songs at Christmastime or in other costumes such as a flapper girl, which she was when she was younger, to sing songs from the Roaring '20s.

"She wasn't trained, she just had the nerve to get up there, with a little coaxing, and belted out a few songs. Everyone liked to hear her sing," Mrs. Brengle said.

Peggy Madden of Towson, a friend for 15 years, went to the Glenmore Tavern two nights a week to hear Mrs. Webb sing.

"She was one jivey woman, let me tell you. She had more energy and strength than an 18-year-old. We used to call ourselves members of the Glenmore Tabernacle Choir," Mrs. Madden said.

"I used to call her Miss America," Mrs. Madden said. "The door would open at the Glenmore and she'd dance down the aisle and I'd sing, 'There she goes, Miss America.' She was always happy and jolly and had a wonderful personality."

Born and reared in Baltimore's 10th Ward, Mrs. Webb attended city schools before going to work in 1925 as a long distance telephone operator for Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. She was assigned to the company's Plaza exchange office on Light Street next door to the Southern Hotel.

She left C&P in 1935 to rear two younger sisters after her mother died. She returned to C&P in 1947 and retired in 1974.

She was a member of the Maryland Chapter of the Telephone Pioneers of America and the St. John's Oldtimers Tenth Ward.

She participated for years in Baltimore's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, including this year, dressed in Irish garb decorated with green ribbons.

Deeply religious, she was described by her sister as "always attending Mass on Saturday evening and popping into the nearest Catholic church."

Mrs. Webb's husband, Charles E. Webb, an executive with Revere Copper & Brass in Canton, died in 1974. They were married in 1930.

L Mrs. Webb donated her body to the Anatomy Board of Maryland.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Sept. 9 at St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church, 5310 Harford Road, Baltimore.

Other survivors include a son, Brian Kimball Webb of Westborough, Mass.; another sister, Angela M. Wright of Baltimore; five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to St. Elizabeth Rehabilitation Center, 801 Argonne Drive, Baltimore 21218.

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