Irene T. Remley, 100, homemaker, member of family dance troupe

October 28, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Irene T. Remley, who as a member of a family dance troupe toured and performed in England before World War I and later became a homemaker in the Baltimore area, died of pneumonia Wednesday at Copper Ridge in Sykesville. She was 100.

She was born Irene Thelma Entwistle in Manchester, England, the daughter of a musician father and actress-dancer mother.

Mrs. Remley was 7 when she joined her mother and six sisters as a member of the Tiller Troupe, a precision female dance company established in 1885 by British theatrical impresario John Tiller, who is credited with developing the uniform tap and kick straight-line dancing later adopted by the Rockettes.

"Her sisters toured Europe before World War I and gave command performances for Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Czar Nicholas II of Russia, but because she was so young, she only performed in England," said her son, Carroll F. Remley Jr. of Lutherville.

"Most of the family immigrated to Baltimore after the first world war, and because of the complications of sponsorship by the daughters already living in the U.S., Irene and her mother adopted the surname of Yates when they arrived in 1920," he said.

Mrs. Remley continued dancing in vaudeville during the early 1920s with her sisters, who disbanded the act after marrying. She then worked for several years as an operator of a comptometer -- an early adding machine -- at the old O'Neill's Department Store at Charles and Lexington streets.

In 1929, she married Carroll F. Remley Sr., an engineer who died in 2001.

Mrs. Remley, who never lost her English accent, retained an interest in theater and encouraged two of her children in their activities as members of the Valley Players amateur theatrical group.

"We'd be in the garage building scenery, and she'd happily feed everybody," her son said.

Another pastime Mrs. Remley indulged in until recent years was setting up in her living room a Christmas garden that dated to 1900. The miniature hand-carved village, train and other components had been constructed of cardboard and wood removed from cigar boxes by her father-in-law.

Work on the garden began in earnest after the last of the turkey and pumpkin pie had been consumed Thanksgiving.

"Following Thanksgiving dinner, when the dishes were finished, the men would go into the parlor and the ladies would spread an oil cloth on the dining room table. We would then begin preparing the Christmas fruit cakes while the men began to set up the garden," she told The Evening Sun in 1986.

"Of course I love the garden. We had nothing like it in England when I was growing up," she said. She added that it wasn't uncommon for the garden to remain in her living room as late as February or March, or until "I get tired of looking at it."

Mrs. Remley also enjoyed painting landscapes in oils, quilting and ceramics.

After many years in Parkville, she and her husband moved to Westminster in 1989. Mrs. Remley led a vigorous life until her early 90s. While following no particular regimen, she never smoked and only occasionally sipped a glass of wine.

"She did drink lots and lots of orange pekoe tea. She drank it at breakfast, lunch, teatime and dinner because she thought it might help her," her son said.

Mrs. Remley had been a member and former Sunday school teacher at the Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Hamilton and was a former president of the Parkville Homemakers Club. She also had been active years ago in Republican politics and worked as an election judge.

She was a member of St. John's Episcopal Church, 3738 Butler Road, Glyndon, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Nov. 4.

In addition to her son, Mrs. Remley is survived by a daughter, Betty Ann Remley of Westminster; two granddaughters; and three great-grandchildren. Another daughter, Irene Barbara Catherine Remley, died in April.

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