Josephine E. B. Richardson Asplen, manager of employment center

October 12, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Josephine Ellen Bowie Richardson Asplen, manager of Baltimore County's Reemployment Assistance Center in Towson, died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease Wednesday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. She was 59.

Mrs. Asplen, a 36-year resident of Dundalk, was born and reared in Hurlock. Josephine Ellen Bowie Richardson was a 1959 graduate of Stuart Hall, a private school in Staunton, Va., and she earned her bachelor's degree in political science from Goucher College in 1963.

She began her career working in the Army's intelligence section at Fort Holabird during the 1960s. She joined the Baltimore County Office of Employment and Training in 1980, and was responsible for managing the daily operations at the agency's Eastpoint office.

In 1993, Mrs. Asplen was named manager of the Baltimore County Reemployment Assistance Center on Dulaney Valley Road in Towson. At the time, the center, which works directly with people who have been laid off or displaced, was the first of its kind in the state.

"Her whole life was dedicated to helping people," said George H. Asplen, her husband of 37 years and a retired Bethlehem Steel Corp. industrial engineer. "That's what she was all about."

"She was always sensitive to people and the state they were in when they came to us. Sometimes they were angry or lost, and she helped direct them in a positive and caring way. It was in her nature to be caring and helpful," said Gloria J. Sandstrom, manager of operations for the Office of Employment Training.

Mrs. Asplen also worked with businesses seeking qualified and skilled workers.

"She tried to match the needs of the people who came through our door with the needs of business," said Mrs. Sandstrom.

In a 1994 interview with the Dundalk Eagle, Mrs. Asplen explained the satisfaction she derived from helping a client find a job, which might have taken months of hard work on her part. "It is the most wonderful thing. We get really attached to some of these clients. Lots of people make this their job-hunting headquarters and we see them every day. When they get a job, it's a real reason for celebrating," she said. "We're almost as happy for them as they are for themselves."

Mrs. Asplen, who was known for putting in long hours, enjoyed her work.

"She worked hard to create a team atmosphere with the staff and was a positive role model," said Mrs. Sandstrom.

"She was such a caring person. She always made you feel like you were a friend rather than an employee," said Faye C. Deak of Bel Air, an office specialist.

"When she spoke, she focused on what you had to say. She listened to suggestions and oftentimes took them to heart. Her door was always open. And if we got busy, she'd get right down and help with the work," she said.

Mrs. Asplen, who had not retired at the time of her death, had been active for many years in various organizations in Dundalk.

She had been a member of the board of the Baltimore County League of Women Voters and had served on the Baltimore County Charter Revision Committee.

Mrs. Asplen was a member of the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce, the Inner Wheel of the Dundalk Rotary Club, the Dundalk Concert Association, the Heritage Association of Dundalk and the Woman's Club of Dundalk.

Brenda R. O'Donovan of Dundalk, a friend for 32 years, described her as a "bright, sharp, warm and caring individual."

She remembered their initial meeting: "We seemed to click the first moment we met," said Mrs. O'Donovan. "She was a very outgoing and vivacious person - the kind of person you could discuss anything with - which is a good way to describe our relationship."

Mrs. Asplen enjoyed spending time with her family and grandchildren, and reading mysteries.

Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Old Trinity Episcopal Church, Route 16, Church Creek.

She was an active communicant and former vestryman at St. George's and St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 2900 Dunleer Road, Dundalk, where a memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by a son, George B. Asplen of Reisterstown; a daughter, Jennifer Ellen Bowie Asplen Corrigan of Glen Allen, Va.; and two grandchildren.

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