Elizabeth A. Haynes, a Baltimore businesswoman who served as president of Baltimore Rigging Co. for more than three decades, died Friday at her home in the Warrington Apartments in Guilford after a battle with Alzheimer's disease. She was 90.
When Miss Haynes joined Baltimore Rigging Co. more than 60 years ago, it was a five-truck, five-employee operation. The family business grew into a multistate company with international accounts in industrial engineering and heavy machinery installation, with nearly 40 employees and annual revenue of $7 million, said her brother J. Bruce Haynes Sr., who took over as president of Rosedale-based Baltimore Rigging in 2002.
"She never really retired," he said of his sister. "She was a hard worker. She was kind and generous, very family-oriented."
Born in Baltimore, Miss Haynes was the eldest of 13 children. She received her high school diploma from Baltimore City Evening High School and took evening classes at the Johns Hopkins University, her sister Irene Miller of Towson said.
When their father died in 1941, Miss Haynes went into the business with her mother, Helen Elizabeth Haynes, and brother John M. Haynes Sr., who died in 1969. Miss Haynes was president of the company from 1965, when her mother died, until 2002, when she assumed the title of chief executive officer.
"I did it on sheer guts and determination," Miss Haynes said in a 1978 interview with The Sun. "I never planned a career. It just happened. I had to make money to survive."
When the federal government started awarding minority business contracts to female business executives in the late 1970s, Miss Haynes was quoted as saying she never really thought of herself as a minority.
"I never saw any bias," she said in a 1988 Evening Sun article. "In fact, I didn't know the word existed until about 10 years ago, when a woman said you must have had a terrible time getting contracts. I told her quite the contrary."
She joined the Center Club, once a men-only organization, in the early 1970s, according to published reports.
"I don't think she paid much attention to all that," said her sister Helen Haynes, who moved in with her about five years ago to help with her care. "It was never a question of whether she was a woman in a man's field."
In 1979, the company's plant on Falls Road was hit hard by Tropical Storm David. She quickly set up operations in trailers adjacent to the plant and worked around the clock with crews to hose out the mud and silt, according to news reports.
"She was very proud of that," said Phyllis B. Brotman, owner of Image Dynamics, a Baltimore public relations firm and a long-time friend and former business associate. "She worked tirelessly to relocate the operations to Cockeysville in two days. The company never missed a beat. She was a very hands-on president. She knew every inch of the business."
Miss Haynes was sometimes seen at work sites in her designer suits and a hard hat and work boots, according to newspaper articles.
She once attended a White House dinner hosted by President Jimmy Carter, friends and relatives said. Miss Haynes also served on the Baltimore County Charter Revision Committee in the late 1970s and was a member of the Loyola College board of trustees. She was also a member of the college's Jenkins Society, according to relatives.
Miss Haynes' brief marriage to Ernest R. Taylor Sr. ended in divorce. Their son, Ernest R. "Sandy" Taylor Jr., also worked for the family company until his death from a heart attack in 1977 at age 38.
Irene Miller recalled memories of her sister urging her and their other sisters to practice walking with books on their heads while keeping their shoulders back and heads held high. Mrs. Miller also recalled how devoted Miss Haynes was to her son.
Visitation will be held at Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road in Towson, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. today and tomorrow. A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St.
In addition to her brother and two sisters, she is survived by two other sisters, Mary Ann Hileman of Westminster and Margaret H. Ruby of Parkville; two grandsons; and five great-grandchildren.