Mary Freeze, 80, Thurmont restaurateur She and her husband owned the popular Cozy

January 29, 1996|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,SUN STAFF

Mary Louise Gehr Freeze, owner of the popular Cozy Restaurant and Inn in Thurmont, died Thursday at Frederick Memorial Hospital of heart failure. She was 80.

Sixty-two years ago, Mrs. Freeze began working at the Cozy, helping to build the small lunch counter into a 720-seat restaurant with a country inn and gift shops near Camp David.

Through the years, Mrs. Freeze played hostess to a variety of celebrities, from television news personalities Barbara Walters and Sam Donaldson to British leader Winston Churchill, who stopped while on his way to the presidential retreat in the Catoctin Mountains -- then called Shangri-La -- with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The restaurant also received international exposure when journalists from around the world stayed at the inn while covering the Israeli-Egyptian peace talks at Camp David in 1979.

Mrs. Freeze never planned a career in the restaurant business. When she came to Thurmont in 1934, the native of Clear Spring was looking only to earn money for nursing school. Then 19, she had graduated from Clear Spring High School a year earlier.

"I had a friend in Thurmont, so I showed up one day looking for a job," Mrs. Freeze told a Sun interviewer in March. "I never dreamed I'd stay."

In 1935, she married the Cozy's owner, Wilbur Ross Freeze, and the two ran the restaurant together until his death in 1961. Mrs. Freeze continued working there as a waitress until the early 1970s, when she turned over the business to her only son, Gerald, and his wife, Rebecca.

"I've never had any regrets about not becoming a nurse," Mrs. Freeze said.

A member of Apples United Church of Christ in Thurmont, she also was an active member of the Business and Professional Women's Club and was recognized as Thurmont Business Woman of the Year.

In addition to her son, Mrs. Freeze is survived by a brother, Joe Gehr of Clear Spring; three grand- children; three great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Services are planned for 1 p.m. today at Stauffer Funeral Home, 104 E. Main St., Thurmont. Interment will be in Blue Ridge Cemetery, Thurmont.

Memorial contributions may be made to Apples United Church of Christ, c/o Barb Freeze, P.O. Box 266, Thurmont 21788.

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