A. Barbara Fox, 62, worked as a secretary at The Sun

September 22, 2002|By Michael Stroh | Michael Stroh,SUN STAFF

A. Barbara Fox, a longtime secretary at The Sun, died Thursday at Greater Baltimore Medical Center from complications of pulmonary disease. She was 62 and lived in Owings Mills.

Ms. Fox - better known to co-workers and family members as "Foxy" - was born in Baltimore and grew up in Rodgers Forge.

Her family moved to San Diego when she was in elementary school. Ms. Fox, her mother and three brothers returned several years later after the death of her father. She graduated from Eastern High School in 1958.

Known for her wisecracks, Ms. Fox "was an original," said Joy Fox, her sister-in-law.

"You would just break up at her take on life." And, her sister-in-law said, "She was always ready for a party."

Ms. Fox worked for many years at spice-maker McCormick & Co., then on Light Street, where she helped coordinate taste tests in the company's home economics department.

She joined The Sun in the late 1970s, working as an executive secretary to Gary Black Sr., chairman of the board of the A.S. Abell Co., which then owned the newspaper.

From there, she moved to the newspaper's marketing and communications department, then to the advertising department, always working for department heads and other executives.

In 1996, she was brought to the editorial department as a confidential secretary to Joseph R.L. Sterne, the former longtime editorial page editor.

A staunch conservative among mostly liberals, Ms. Fox wasn't afraid to tell her new boss - or anybody else - what she thought about an editorial or issue. "She could be pretty blunt," Mr. Sterne said. "But you couldn't get mad at Foxy. She really enlivened the place."

"`Secretary' doesn't describe what she did," said Sara Engram, a former editorial writer. "She made it fun to come to work."

A devout Catholic who regularly attended Saturday evening Mass, she was known for her generosity. If she saw a homeless person shivering in the cold, she would rummage through her home until she found something to help.

When Cardinal William H. Keeler visited The Sun to meet with its editorial staff, Ms. Fox implored one of the writers to lead the cardinal to her cubicle after the meeting, so that he could bless it.

"I think it's safe to say that hers is the only office at the Baltimore Sun ever blessed," said Ms. Engram.

Ms. Fox retired from The Sun in 1999.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered 10 a.m. tomorrow at SS. Philip and James Church, 2803 N. Charles St.

Ms. Fox is survived by two aunts, an uncle and several nieces and nephews.

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