Elaine Dann, 79, manager of Rheb's candy store

April 04, 2001|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Elaine A. Dann, retired manager of Rheb's candy store in Southwest Baltimore, died Monday of complications of a stroke at St. Agnes HealthCare. She was 79 and had lived in Catonsville for 57 years.

From 1960 to 1983, Mrs. Dann managed the retail shop in a converted garage adjacent to Louis J. Rheb Candy Co., a chocolate bonbon manufacturer that operates from the basements of two rowhouses in the 3300 block of Wilkens Ave.

"She was happy and funny. She was excellent with customers, very patient when they brought in special orders," said Wynn Harger, president of Louis J. Rheb Candy Co. "She was a nice lady. No matter how long the lines were, she maintained that happiness and did the best she could. She worked at just about everything in the store -- then stayed after it closed and scrubbed the floor."

Friends said Mrs. Dann maintained her happy disposition during the busiest and most trying times at the store -- the periods before the major candy-giving holidays of Christmas, Easter and Valentine's Day when supplies would grow low. Some customers would select each piece of candy and Mrs. Dann, attired in a smock and with her hair in a hairnet, would place them in boxes.

She also made the schedules of co-workers and ordered the holiday novelties sold at the shop.

"She was very friendly with everyone who came in the front door," said Esther Rheb Harger, daughter of the company's founder. "She remembered their names. She knew so many of the people. I'm sure she remembered their preferences, too."

Mrs. Dann had a longtime association with the Rheb family. Her parents played pinochle with the couple, who founded the company in 1917.

"Despite working with candy, she really liked her crab cakes and steamed crabs," said Helen Szablya of Columbia, her daughter-in-law. "She spent her summer nights sitting on the porch, listening to the Orioles."

Born in Baltimore, Elaine A. Bonsall was reared on Smallwood Street and attended Western High School.

After her retirement, she volunteered two days a week at Catonsville Senior Center, where she did administrative work.

She met her husband, Everett C. Dann Sr., a Westinghouse Electric Corp. machinist, at a roller skating night at the old Coliseum on Monroe Street. They were married 57 years.

Funeral services for Mrs. Dann will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Witzke Funeral Home, 1630 Edmondson Ave., Catonsville.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by a son, E. Charles Dann Jr. of Columbia; a sister, Gloria Patterson of Bainbridge Island, Wash.; and two grandchildren.

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