K. Elizabeth Grim, 95, amateur historian

March 31, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

K. Elizabeth Grim, a Catonsville amateur historian who lectured widely about her community's curiosities and people, died of a heart ailment Saturday at Charlestown Retirement Community. The former Catonsville resident was 95.

Born Katherine Elizabeth Grim, the Catonsville native was a member of the Catonsville High School Class of 1926, the first class to graduate from the Bloomsbury Avenue campus.

Miss Grim then began working at her grandparents' Frederick Road bakery. She was the bakery's bookkeeper and helped sell the cakes, pies, buns and breads her family members made.

When the bakery closed in 1948, she became a medical secretary, working for Dr. James Howell and other Catonsville physicians. She retired in 1984 after a decade of work at the Catonsville Community College library.

In 1963, Miss Grim joined Thomas G. Pullen, a former state public education superintendent, and fellow historian Jean Walsh to assemble books, manuscripts and photos about her neighborhood's history into the Catonsville Room archive at the Catonsville branch of the Baltimore County Public Library, where she was a volunteer for more than four decades.

She was Catonsville Citizen of the Year once in the 1970s and was a grand marshal of the community's July Fourth Parade.

"Elizabeth was an active and prominent member of the Catonsville community," said Lisa Vicari, a friend and volunteer at the library's Catonsville Room. "She was extremely knowledgeable about the people in Catonsville, and she knew everybody. If you mentioned a name, she rattled off who their cousins were."

Miss Grim also spoke widely about her community and presented a narrated slide show of Catonsville sites. "She was a good speaker and an entertaining one," Vicari said. "She was game for anything that would come up. She had lots and lots of anecdotes to tell and she was a great storyteller. She was alert and enthusiastic about life, with a wonderful sense of humor."

"A lot of local knowledge is lost with her death," said her niece Mary Blair of Catonsville. "Her friends liked getting in a bus with her to listen to her talk about who lived in what houses by the side of the road."

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Salem Lutheran Church, 905 Frederick Road, where she was awarded a certificate for her nine decades as a member.

In addition to Mrs. Blair, survivors include three nephews and four other nieces.

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