Elaine H. Christy, 81, real estate agent, retailer

March 11, 2002|By Marcia Myers | Marcia Myers,SUN STAFF

Elaine Hannon Christy, who reinvented herself through a series of careers including construction, interior design and retailing at a time when few women worked, died Tuesday of heart failure at Manor Care Nursing Home in Towson. She was 81.

Born in Catonsville to a strict Roman Catholic family, she exhibited early on what would be a lifelong streak of independence when, as a teen-ager, she changed her given name, Mary Theresa, to Elaine. Before long, she was selling cosmetics, modeling at Hecht United Brothers, and selling dresses at Frank's near Greenmount Avenue and 33rd Street. At 22, she became assistant buyer of furs for the May Co.

After marrying Williard "Chris" Christy in 1945, she was named vice president of his company, Beauty Craft, a kitchen and bath construction firm.

Over the years, through various businesses the couple launched, she worked in home building, interior design and real estate. She once sold seven houses in one day in the Orchard Hills section of Towson, said her daughter, Patricia Christy-Sherlock of Westby, Wis.

In the mid-1950s, the Christys moved to North Miami Beach, where they opened two lighting-fixture stores, built luxury homes in the Florida Keys and made frequent trips to Cuba on their 52-foot yacht, the Patsy J. But the businesses didn't succeed, and they returned to Baltimore after three years.

Her husband died in 1982.

Services were Thursday at Bishop Cummins Memorial Church in Catonsville.

In addition to her daughter, survivors include a son, James V. Christy of Kingstowne, Va.; sisters Catherine Blair and Regina Delaro, both of Baltimore, and Alice Federline of Murrysville, Pa.; and brothers Paul Hannon of Essex, Frank Hannon of Catonsville, Eugene Hannon of Glen Burnie, Thomas Hannon of Ocean City, Joseph Hannon of Hurlock and Jay "Butch" Hannon of Linthicum.

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