Helen Ann Laurie, 62, chandler, maker of candle lamps

February 16, 1999|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Helen Ann Laurie, a master chandler and maker of candle lamps that she sold in East Coast gift shops for more than 25 years, died Saturday at Johns Hopkins Hospital of cancer. She was 62.

From the mid-1960s until she retired about two years ago, Mrs. Laurie owned Models By Laurie, a candle-making business she operated in the basement of her Annapolis home.

She made all shapes and sizes of candles and was known for her lamps, in which she placed a candle in the center of a glass dish or lamp.

She would often lift lettering from wedding invitations or anniversary announcements and engrave it to the glass. She painted scenes on other candle lamps.

"It all started as a hobby. Then people wanted to buy them," said her daughter Kathleen Edinger of White Plains, N.Y. "She liked doing it and was good at it."

Mrs. Laurie was the sole employee of the business and often worked in the shop into the early hours of the morning -- using dental tools and paintbrushes to design, carve, mold and paint the candles and lamps. She also did the bookkeeping, sales and delivery.

Her candles and candle lamps ranged in size from a couple of inches to more than 2 feet high, and cost $15 to $20. She sold her wares to specialty shops in Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, Washington and Maryland.

"She was always very creative in the manner and fashion in which she made her candles," said Gwendolyn Carruth of Washington, who bought candles from Mrs. Laurie for 10 years. "She had a skill, and she made it work for her."

Mrs. Laurie once designed and made a white candle lamp surrounded by flowers that Ms. Carruth used for her son's baptism.

"It's a keepsake that will always be special," she said. "It totally fit the occasion."

A native of Washington, the former Helen Ann Cusick earned an associates of arts degree from Immaculata Junior College there in 1956.

She was a member of the National Candle Artisans Guild, the Southern Maryland Celtic Society, the Ladies Ancient Order of the Hibernians, the Robert Burns Society and the Severn River Association.

Mrs. Laurie enjoyed traveling and was a football fan -- especially of the Washington Redskins.

Her husband, Vernon J. Laurie, whom she married in 1957, said figurines that included flowers were some of her more popular candle designs.

"It was all her idea, and, unfortunately, it will go with her," Mr. Laurie said.

For many years, Mrs. Laurie was a member of Holy Family Roman Catholic Church, 826 W. Central Ave. in Davidsonville, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 9: 30 a.m. Thursday.

In addition to her husband and daughter, Mrs. Laurie is survived by two sons, Kevin Laurie of Boise, Idaho, and Scott Laurie of Santa Cruz, Calif.; a brother, William Francis Cusick of Gaithersburg; a sister, Angela Klisch of Falls Church, Va.; and four grandchildren.

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