Helen Reichenberg, 77, hospital volunteer, fund-raiser

June 28, 1999|By Marcia Myers | Marcia Myers,SUN STAFF

Helen Chambers Reichenberg, a longtime volunteer and fund-raiser for Good Samaritan Hospital, died Wednesday of ovarian cancer at Oak Crest Village Care Center in Parkville. The lifelong Northeast Baltimore resident was 77.

Mrs. Reichenberg was first employed as a hairdresser, then moved to Stewart's department stores in Baltimore, where she became a retail supervisor. After she had spent about 15 years at the company, the stores closed in the early 1970s.

She joined Good Samaritan Hospital's auxiliary, helping to raise millions of dollars for the institution. She served several years as auxiliary president and held key offices in other years.

Her standards were not to be toyed with, said Corj Simmons of Baltimore, a good friend and fellow volunteer.

"She had a standard she would accept, and beneath that she wouldn't," Mrs. Simmons said. "It wasn't a personal matter where she was judging. It's just what she expected from herself and others."

For about two decades, Tuesday was Mrs. Reichenberg's day to work in Good Samaritan's gift shop, which turns its profits over to the hospital. "To stay on as a volunteer so long is unusual, and it says something," said Helen Madgar of Baltimore, a fellow volunteer and friend.

Several years ago, Mrs. Reichenberg and her husband of 54 years, George, instituted what has become an annual rite in the hospital's Christmas fund raising.

Making numerous trips between Good Samaritan and Radebaugh's Florist, they picked up carload after carload of wreaths and poinsettias to be sold to benefit the hospital.

Mr. Reichenberg died last year.

Mrs. Reichenberg's enthusiasm for knitting also led to hundreds of handmade knit caps for newborns in the obstetrics unit. She continued producing the caps after she was hospitalized and undergoing chemotherapy.

"In the end, she was very ill, but she was still interested in the auxiliary and she still wanted to know what was going on," Mrs. Madgar said. "She was super special -- very classy, very well-liked."

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Oak Crest Village Chapel, 8800 Walther Ave., Parkville.

She is survived by a daughter, Carol Burkhouse of Hampstead; a son, Gerard Reichenberg of Baltimore; a sister, Doris Griffin of Baltimore; and three grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to the Auxiliary of Good Samaritan Hospital.

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