Cornelia E. Harper, 92, tennis player, YWCA official

January 19, 2004

Cornelia E. Harper, a homemaker and volunteer who played tennis until she was in her 80s, died Tuesday of coronary artery disease at Broadmead retirement community. She was 92.

Born and raised in Bridgeport, Conn., Cornelia Esther Edwards earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Wellesley College in 1933.

Mrs. Harper, who was known as Esther, took up tennis as a child. She played on the New England amateur tennis circuit and later competed in four matches on the grass courts of the U.S. National, now the U.S. Open, at Forest Hills, N.Y. -- including one in 1935 that she lost to famed tennis star Helen Hull Jacobs.

In 1938, she married Dr. Paul A. Harper, a pediatrician practicing in Fairfield, Conn. In 1949, the couple moved to Elmwood Road in Roland Park, where they lived for 49 years until moving to the Cockeysville retirement community.

Dr. Harper, a professor and later chairman of the maternal and child health department and founder of the population dynamics department at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, died last year.

Mrs. Harper continued playing tennis at the Homeland Racquet Club, Elkridge Country Club and Eagles Mere Country Club in Pennsylvania, where she and her husband built a summer home. She was an avid birdwatcher and enjoyed taking long walks.

In her late 60s, Mrs. Harper resumed her formal education -- earning a master's degree in Greek Egyptology from the Johns Hopkins University.

She was a past president of the International Center of the YWCA in Baltimore and was a certified Braille instructor.

Mrs. Harper was a communicant of Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, where a memorial service was held Saturday.

Survivors include her son, Paul E. Harper of Timonium; two daughters, Cornelia Edwards Harper of Baltimore and Eugenia Barker Harper-Jones of Silver Spring; and four grandchildren.

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