Lou S. Bounds Hoover, who owned and operated a well-known Reisterstown bakery and catering company for 60 years, died of cancer Monday at her home there. She was 94.
She was born Lou Stem Bennett in Sykesville and raised on her family's Carroll County farm in nearby Berrett. She was a 1926 graduate of the old Blue Ridge College high school.
After she earned a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1930 from Hood College, she took a job as comptroller at the old Montrose School for Girls in Reisterstown.
She was married in 1932 to Vernon Maring Bounds Sr., co-owner of a road-building company who died in 1941. She also outlived a second husband of 18 years, machinist James "Jimbo" Hoover, who died in 1993.
A year after losing her first husband, she started a custom baking business in the kitchen of her home.
"She'd take orders up to noon and then would deliver the finished cakes and pies by car in the afternoon," said Connie Bounds, a daughter-in-law who lives in Uniontown. "There was still sugar rationing left over from World War II, so she'd swap vegetables from her garden for her customers' sugar stamps. That's how she was able to get the sugar she needed for baking."
From the moment she opened Bounds Bakery in 1947 on Main Street in Reisterstown, across from the original Franklin High School building, business boomed.
"The kids would come in and buy doughnuts, and she was known for her sticky buns, eclairs, coconut cakes and decorated cakes, which were a work of art," the daughter-in-law said.
In the late 1940s, Mrs. Hoover added Bounds Caterers to her operation, later moving it all to a home she had built on Nicodemus Road. She catered private parties and events and kept guests happy with generous cuts of roasted steamship round of beef, crispy crab cakes, tureens of crab imperial and specialty chicken dishes.
Mrs. Hoover had an extensive collection of cookbooks from which she drew inspiration.
"She was a very outgoing person and she always aimed to please. She did everything from designing the food for an affair to her own bookkeeping. She was strong as an ox and could sling 100-pound bags of ice with ease," Mrs. Bounds said.
In addition to family members who assisted her in food preparation, Mrs. Hoover employed a crew of workers. And she expected perfection from everyone, family members said.
"She gave her customers the best, and wanted them to be pleased," Mrs. Bounds said.
Mrs. Hoover and her crew would arrive hours in advance of an event, with all the food, pots, pans, chafing dishes and equipment packed into her royal-blue GMC van.
"We all stayed on the job until everything was done and put away," said Betty M. Harmon, who managed Bounds Catering events for more than 30 years. "We often left a house cleaner than when we arrived."
Mrs. Harmon recalled a time when Mrs. Hoover forgot the scheduled time for an event. "While we were headed for Columbia in the van, one of the ladies fixed the string beans as we went down the road," she said. "I don't think Lou ever got nervous because she knew everything would be ready when they were supposed to be."
Mrs. Hoover also operated the food services at Roland Park Country School, Garrison Forest School and Bryn Mawr School.
She closed the bakery in 1984, but continued operating the catering company until 2003.
"She was catering the Recreational Vehicle Show at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium when she fell and broke her hip. That's when she closed the business," said her daughter-in-law.
On Sundays, Mrs. Hoover enjoyed cooking and serving a large meal for her family, and on Thanksgiving mornings years ago, she liked to go hunting with her husband.
She liked fishing, camping, reading and horseback riding.
"She was sharp as a tack until the end of her life and didn't miss a beat," her daughter-in-law said.
Services were yesterday.
Mrs. Hoover is survived by 14 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. She outlived two sons, Vernon Maring Bounds Jr., who died in 2001, and Wilson Roberts "Bob" Bounds, who died last year.
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