Anita Kreeger, 66, public relations executive

August 15, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Anita Phillips Kreeger, retired vice president and treasurer of the local public relations firm Wills & Associates Inc. and a former chairwoman of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, died of melanoma Sunday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. She was 66.

A Towson resident for 30 years, Mrs. Kreeger was born and raised Anita Spedden Phillips in Cambridge. She was a graduate of the Mount Vernon School, a private girls school in Washington, and earned her bachelor's degree in geography from Northwestern University in 1958.

She moved to Washington and worked on the staff of Prescott S. Bush, who served from 1952 to 1963 as the Republican senator from Connecticut.

Mrs. Kreeger later moved to Baltimore with her husband, James S. Kreeger, whom she married in 1959. The couple later divorced.

After joining the Junior League of Baltimore, Mrs. Kreeger played a pivotal role in the establishment of the organization's Wise Penny thrift shop in the 5900 block of York Road, Govans.

Based on the recommendation of a friend and Junior League member, Mrs. Kreeger's financial expertise was brought to the attention of George S. Wills, founder of Wills & Associates in Baltimore.

"I have known her since I started the business in 1978," said Mr. Wills. "It all began in a small room of her house in Towson before we sublet space in the W.R. Grace Building."

Mrs. Kreeger, who was hired as the new company's treasurer and later named a vice president, brought a keen financial sense to the business as well as a refined sense of humor.

"She was very organized and disciplined and had a special gift of being able to tell you things you sometimes didn't want to hear. And her advice was invariably always right. These were the characteristics of Anita that meant so much," Mr. Wills said.

He also praised her abilities as a skilled negotiator and as a person who could always ferret out the "devil in the details."

After receiving a diagnosis of melanoma in 1999, Mrs. Kreeger retired.

Mrs. Kreeger also brought the same vivaciousness and financial expertise to her work with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, to whose board she was appointed in 1989 and headed from 1992 to 1994.

"Anita was the guiding force behind the tremendous growth of our organization and was always at the center of the storm," said Tom Hall, who has served as music director of Baltimore Choral Arts for 20 years.

"She was one of the architects of our Art Show Committee, which is one of our most important financial events and something we're very proud of. It is her legacy," he said of the annual weeklong benefit show and sale that is one of the organization's major fund-raisers.

"She had a tremendous spirit and was always in a good mood. She simply radiated happiness and was great to be around. Even in her illness, she was positive and always up. And she attended concerts when she was able," he said.

Mr. Hall added: "We would not be where we are today without her help. She was a tremendous guiding force."

Mrs. Kreeger was a cat fancier and enjoyed reading about Maryland history and travel. She also was a world traveler, visiting Europe, South America and Africa.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St.

Mrs. Kreeger is survived by her two sons, Christopher P. Kreeger and Andrew P. Kreeger, both of Melbourne Beach, Fla.; a brother, Albanus Phillips of Cambridge; and a grandson.

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