Beatrice McArthur, businesswoman

September 05, 1994|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,Sun Staff Writer

Beatrice Eunice McArthur, a businesswoman and school cafeteria manager, died Wednesday at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center of a disease that prevents blood-clotting. The Ashburton resident was 88.

She had a 20-year-career as a school cafeteria manager and operated beauty salons in Baltimore and Philadelphia.

During World War II, Mrs. McArthur was the first black woman supervisor in the stenciling department of the Curtis Bay Ordnance Depot, her family said.

Born in East Baltimore, she moved as a young girl with her mother to Philadelphia where she graduated from high school and from Craig School of Beauty Culture in 1937. While in Philadelphia she married Robert George Collins and operated a beauty salon until 1941, when she divorced and moved back to Baltimore with her son.

In the early 1940s, she converted the front living room of her home in the 1100 block of Fulton Ave. into another beauty salon.

Mrs. McArthur would do hair on weekends while working full time during the week at the ordnance depot and, beginning in 1951, in city school cafeterias. She operated her salon until 1963, when she moved to her home on Carlisle Avenue in Ashburton.

Without a salon, she continued to do hair for family and friends.

Her granddaughter remembered Mrs. McArthur's skill with a curling iron.

"She could put some curls in your hair that would last until you washed it," said Sandra D. Smith, 33, of Randallstown.

Mrs. McArthur was a church usher and usher board organizer, first in Philadelphia, then at Centennial Methodist Church and finally at Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Baltimore.

"She was a devout churchgoer, and she felt that anything she could do that was helping her faith and her church she would do," said her son, Robert G. Collins of Northwood.

A church member since 1953, she was president of Mount Zion's senior usher board for many years and also helped organize and advise the church's first youth usher board.

"Her whole life was the church," Mr. Collins, 55, said. "She never drank, never smoked, never cursed."

A member of the Annie S. Banks Chapter of the Eastern Star for more than 40 years, she was known as Bea, Nana or Baby to her family and friends. But everyone else called her Mrs. McArthur.

"She hated people to call her ma'am," said Mrs. Smith. "If anyone called her ma'am, or worse, Bea, they would get a quick lesson.

" 'I don't know you; my name is Mrs. McArthur.' She would not answer to it."

Services will be held Tuesday beginning with a family visiting hour at 7:30 p.m. at Mount Zion Church, 3050 Liberty Heights Ave.

Her second husband, John W. McArthur, whom she married in 1948, died in 1964.

Besides her son and granddaughter, survivors include a nephew she reared as a son, James Cooper of Ashburton; his daughter, Deborah R. Bey of Randallstown, whom she reared from age 18 months; eight grandchildren; three step-grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

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