Eveline R. Spicknall, 91, secretary at Evening Sun

October 24, 2004|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Eveline R. Spicknall, retired secretary to the managing editor of The Evening Sun who combined efficiency with an outgoing friendliness, died of a heart attack Monday at Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg. The former longtime Catonsville resident was 91.

She was born Eveline Robinson in Baltimore and was raised there and in Catonsville. After dropping out of high school, she studied shorthand at Strayer's Business College and became a secretary for a construction business.

After her 1935 marriage to Charles M. Spicknall, she became a homemaker. In 1950, she moved to Denver with her husband when he took a position with Standard Oil Co. After his death in 1954, she returned to Catonsville.

Mrs. Spicknall was hired by the A.S. Abell Co., then publisher of the Sunpapers, in 1957 as a stenographer in the circulation department. In 1962, she became confidential secretary to Philip S. Heisler, the late managing editor of The Evening Sun.

"I liked her very much. She was kind, friendly and very devoted to Phil Heisler. But she could also be a disciplinarian," said Ernest F. Imhoff, a retired Sun reporter who was the evening paper's last managing editor. "And she was frugal. She made sure that reporters used their pencils down to the last 2 or 3 inches."

Mr. Imhoff described her as the "archetypal executive secretary" who "knew what was going on when the bosses sometimes didn't."

Small of stature and with her carefully coifed gray hair and winged spectacles, Mrs. Spicknall often was an isle of calm in the sometimes turbulent newsroom.

"She was a den mother who lived by her Methodist faith, and it served her well in the unruliness of The Evening Sun newsroom," Mr. Imhoff said.

When Mrs. Spicknall retired in 1978, then-publisher William F. Schmick Jr. "dropped into her office and complimented her on the fact that during her long career, whatever she heard she never let slip out," said her daughter, Gayle P. O'Brien of Catonsville, a retired Sun payroll clerk.

An avid stamp collector, Mrs. Spicknall considered it a job perk that she was able to add substantially to her collection by picking stamps from the mail that arrived each day in the newsroom.

She was a lifelong member of West Baltimore United Methodist Church.

Since 1984, she had lived at the Gaithersburg retirement community, where for many years she taught adult Sunday school and where memorial services will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

In addition to her daughter, survivors include two sons, Charles M. Spicknall Jr. of Frederick and Cameron C. Spicknall of Elmira, N.Y.; and two grandchildren.

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