Edith Burnside Whiteford, 91, director of education at Md. Academy of Sciences

February 17, 1999|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Edith Burnside Whiteford, former director of education at the Maryland Academy of Sciences and coordinator of its 'Round the World Adventures program, died Sunday of respiratory failure at Broadmead, the Cockeysville retirement community. She was 91.

The former longtime Ruxton resident headed the academy's popular film and lecture series from 1962 to the early 1980s.

The series was established in 1932 and held at the Lyric Theatre on Thursday and Friday evenings. More than 800,000 people over the years attended the annual series of 21 travelogues with such alluring titles as the "Romance of Romania."

"It was basically a silent film narrated by the person who had taken them," said Anne Childress of Dickeyville, who was Mrs. Whiteford's publicity consultant. "When you looked at the audience it was all gray hair and mink coats. It was all very much old Baltimore-Blue Book society.

"Even for its time, it was quite anachronistic, but she poured a great deal into it. She had lots of savvy, energy and a joie de vivre and knew a great deal about many things," Mrs. Childress said.

Known as Dee, Mrs. Whiteford also led the academy's annual tours to Europe that had a scientific focus. She retired in the mid-1980s.

The former Edith Burnside was born in Marshall, Ill., the daughter of an Army doctor. Her interest in medicine and science began as a child as she accompanied her father on his rounds in a horse-drawn buggy and spent hours in his study reading medical books.

"She had a very inquiring mind," said her daughter, Susan E. Smith of Sunshine, Maine.

After graduating from high school in Houston, Mrs. Whiteford received a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland in 1929.

She was executive secretary for the Washington (D.C.) School for Secretaries until 1932, when she married Col. Roger Streett Whiteford II, who later commanded the "Dandy 5th" Regiment of the Maryland National Guard. He was an official of Western Electric Co. and died in 1968.

She also worked as an assistant business analyst for the Baltimore Bank for Cooperatives, was executive secretary of the Women's Civic League and taught biology and general science at Garrison Forest School from 1954 to 1960.

Mrs. Whiteford had been a member of the Baltimore Criminal Justice Commission, the State Advisory Committee for Environmental Education of the State Department of Education and the New York Academy of Science.

She was also a longtime member of the Hamilton Street Club for women at 16 E. Hamilton St. in Baltimore.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. May 22 at Broadmead, 13801 York Road in Cockeysville.

In addition to her daughter, she is survived by a son, Roger Streett Whiteford III of Riderwood; a twin sister, Edna Burnside Howard Devereux of Broadmead, and another sister, Elizabeth Douglas of Pelham Manor, N.Y.; a half-sister, Laura B. Wright of Florida; five grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

George Edward Commo, 76, Westinghouse machinist

George Edward Commo, a retired machinist, died Monday of a heart attack at his Rockdale home. He was 76.

Mr. Commo worked at Westinghouse Electric Co.'s Linthicum plant from 1947 until 1987.

The Baltimore native served in the Navy during World War II. He enjoyed woodworking and golf.

Services will be held at noon tomorrow at Loring Byers Funeral Home, 8728 Liberty Road.

He is survived by his wife, the former Margaret M. Kachalo, whom he married in 1948; and two sisters, Grace McKellop of Cadillac, Mich., and Ruth Carpenter of Port Richey, Fla.

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