Agnes V. Handy, 75, housekeeper known for delicious cooking

June 30, 2005|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Agnes V. Handy, a retired housekeeper who was known for her carefully prepared meals, died of heart failure June 23 at Sinai Hospital. The longtime West Baltimore resident was 75.

Agnes Virginia Dennis was born and raised in Baltimore and graduated in 1948 from George Washington Carver Vocational High School. After completing nursing courses at the American Red Cross, she was a nurse's aide for several years at Children's and St. Agnes hospitals.

A longtime Cuthbert Avenue resident, she was married for six years to John Robert Handy, who died in 1957.

During the early 1950s, she worked as an usher at the now-demolished Royal Theater on Pennsylvania Avenue and was a funeral home receptionist.

"While working at the Royal, she met some of the great celebrities of the day, including Redd Foxx and Sammy Davis Jr.," said Alan H. Fleischmann, a longtime friend.

For nearly 50 years until retiring several years ago, she worked as a housekeeper for Mr. Fleischmann's family, helping to raise him, his brother and sister.

"She was a real mother figure and played a major role in raising us. She was a great counselor," Mr. Fleischmann said.

"Agnes was also known as a great cook and a wonderful entertainer who enjoyed any opportunity to create a home filled with joyous celebrations and the most delicious meals, including her mother Eleanor's Christmas goose, homemade bread and pies and lamb chops. She also had special recipes for her meatloaf and creamed spinach," he said.

It wasn't unusual to find Mrs. Handy baking desserts such as her black bottom mini cakes, candies, and what she called "stay-up-all-night melt-always," in the middle of the night for her family, friends and members of the Knights of St. John Ladies Auxiliary, of which she was a member.

"She also loved baking wedding cakes and making the table's centerpiece out of candy," Mr. Fleischmann said.

Mrs. Handy was a longtime communicant of St. Peter Claver Roman Catholic Church, where she helped collect clothing for the needy.

"Agnes was a generous and proud woman of deep religious faith. Her home was always open to all for shelter, celebration and love," Mr. Fleischmann said. "She was a strong and private person who brought warmth and clarity to everything she did with few words, a firm and kind voice, and a look that assured all that her word meant everything, much was expected, and anything was possible."

At her church, she was a member of the Ladies of Charity and Our Lady's Sodality.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today at St. Peter Claver, 1526 N. Fremont Ave.

Mrs. Handy is survived by a niece and several cousins.

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