Judith Sala Legg, a trustee of Garrison Forest School whose struggle against breast cancer inspired a support group of more than 700 friends and strangers, died of the disease Saturday at her Owings Mills home. She was 52.
Mrs. Legg's support group -- The Fireflies -- produced newsletters, bumper stickers and tote bags during her 6 1/2-year struggle against cancer and was sparked by "her amazing sense of optimism, courage and strength," said her longtime friend, Toni Vreeland of Owings Mills.
Members of the group sent cards, gifts and voice-mail messages to Mrs. Legg during her treatments. She reciprocated by reporting her progress in a newsletter, or asking friends to send cards to others in the midst of personal crisis, Mrs. Vreeland said.
The group was named the Fireflies because "the firefly lights up a little bit of darkness and, with many acts of kindness, [the group] would light up a dark area for somebody in need," said Caroline Stewart of Stevenson, another close friend.
Mrs. Legg was active in the Wellness Community in Baltimore County, an organization that supports cancer patients, said William Mercer Legg Jr., her husband of 32 years.
The people she met at the Wellness Community "became her best friends," Mr. Legg said. "It was tragic because a lot of them didn't make it. It's like having your group of best friends, and you're losing them one or two a year. It tore her up, but the support she got from people who understood what she was going through was invaluable."
The former Judith Sala was born in Toledo, Ohio, and grew up in Cleveland, where she graduated from Beaumont School in 1965. She studied psychology at Barat College in Illinois, graduating first in her class in 1969.
After her marriage in 1968, the couple settled in Homeland. While raising their family, Mrs. Legg worked as vice president for marketing at Ross-Matthai Corp., which manufactured linens, place mats and other table accessories.
She stopped working 19 years ago when her fourth child was born.
For many years, she served on the board of Garrison Forest School, which her three daughters attended, and worked to put computers in the classrooms.
She was an avid gardener.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Thomas' Church, St. Thomas Lane, Owings Mills.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by three daughters, Kimberly Seifert and Anne Legg, both of Owings Mills, and Kristen Legg of Baltimore; a son, William Legg III of Eugene, Ore.; her parents, Carol and William E. Sala of Cleveland; and a sister, Christine S. Krebs of Owings Mills.
Miriam Helfgott Sax, 102, Roland Park school nurse
Miriam Helfgott Sax, a Russian immigrant honored as the oldest living graduate of Sinai Hospital School of Nursing and a longtime school nurse at Roland Park Elementary School, died of heart failure Thursday at North Oaks Retirement Community in Pikesville. She was 102.
Born south of Kiev, Ukraine, in the small town of Looyev, she received a dentistry degree from Shreider Dental College in Ekaterinoslav, Russia. She came to the United States in 1922, speaking no English, and received her nursing degree in 1927 from Sinai, said a granddaughter, Elizabeth Levy Malis of Baltimore.
About the time of her graduation, she married Dr. Benjamin Sax, a Sinai radiologist. She also worked at the hospital for about five years and especially enjoyed working in the nursery, Mrs. Malis said.
Mrs. Sax stopped working for several years while raising a family. But, after her husband died in an automobile accident in 1949, she began working as school nurse at Roland Park Elementary during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1997, the Nurses Alumni of Sinai Hospital honored Mrs. Sax as the nursing school's oldest living graduate.
The key to her longevity was "her positive spirit," Mrs. Malis said. "She did not let things get her down. She had this indomitable inner strength. She wanted to live life. She said, `I'm grateful for every day I have.' She really was an inspiration."
Services were held yesterday.
She is survived by two sons, Albert Sax of New York City and Daniel Sax of Boston; a daughter, Ruth Sax Levy of Baltimore; eight other grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
Daniel Thursz, 71, dean of UM social work school
Daniel Thursz, former dean of the University of Maryland School of Social Work and Community Planning, died of a heart arrhythmia Tuesday at home in Bethesda. He was 71.
He also was a board member and former executive vice president of B'nai B'rith International, the world's largest Jewish organization.
At the time of his death, he was the Cardinal O'Boyle professor of social work at Catholic University of America, where he earned a master's degree in 1955 and a doctorate in 1960. He was the founding director of the university's International Center on Global Aging, established in 1996.
Born in Casablanca, Morocco, he arrived in the United States in 1941 and graduated from Queens (N. Y.) College in 1949.
He began his academic career as an associate professor at the National School of Social Service at Catholic University in 1961. Two years later, he joined University of Maryland as an associate professor.
He was the dean at UM's school of social work when he was named executive vice president of B'nai B'rith International in Washington in 1977. He left in 1987 to become chief executive of the National Council on Aging, retiring in 1995.
During the past two decades, he served on panels such as the policy committee of the White House Council on Aging and the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations.
He served in the Army during the Korean War.
Funeral services were held Thursday.
He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Hadassah Neulander Thursz of Bethesda; three daughters, Deborah Bleiweis of Cortlandt Manor, N. Y., and Deena Klopman and Tamar Truland, both of North Potomac; a son, David Thursz of Baltimore; and eight grandchildren.