Rita Marie H. Knox, 84, manager of Woman's Industrial Exchange

July 13, 2005|By Anica Butler | Anica Butler,SUN STAFF

Rita Marie Hegarty Knox, a longtime Baltimore resident and former manager of the Woman's Industrial Exchange, died of pneumonia Wednesday at Spa Creek Center in Annapolis. She was 84.

A native of Philadelphia, Rita Marie Hegarty graduated from Notre Dame Academy in Philadelphia in 1938. She moved to Baltimore in 1942 when she married Elmer Vincent Knox, a bridge, structural and ornamental ironworker who died in 1981. She moved to Towson four years ago.

After raising five children, she returned to school and received an associate's degree in gerontology in 1978 from Baltimore City Community College. She also took courses at Goucher College, the College of Notre Dame and the University of Southern California.

Mrs. Knox served as a member of the Maryland Commission on Physical Fitness from 1975 to 1984 - appointed by Gov. Marvin Mandel and reapppointed by Gov. Harry R. Hughes. She was an intern in Annapolis with state Sen. Jennie Forehand of Montgomery County during the late 1970s.

Mrs. Knox also worked at a Harborplace flower market from 1981 to 1989, and managed the Woman's Industrial Exchange from 1989 to 1995 and the Good Samaritan Consignment Shop from 1995 to 2003.

According to daughter Tara Knox of Alexandria, Va., Mrs. Knox remained active until becoming ill 10 weeks ago. Her social life included friends of all ages, and Mrs. Knox was loath to tell people her age. One of her groups of friends had weekly gatherings at Johnny Unitas' Golden Arm Restaurant until its closing. Afterward, the group tried new restaurants each week.

"She was a sort of a free spirit, always doing new things, going to new places," her daughter said, adding that she was in her 50s when she was in college but befriended 20-year-olds.

Her daughter recalled the time 15 years ago when Mrs. Knox called to say that she had just learned to do the Electric Slide at a club on Pennsylvania Avenue - and that she had been the oldest person in the nightclub.

She was a member of St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church and St. Matthew Roman Catholic Church, both in Baltimore.

A funeral Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow in Marikle Chapel at the College of Notre Dame, 4701 N. Charles St.

In addition to her daughter, she is survived by a son, Brad Knox of Los Angeles; three other daughters, Karen Knox-Hurley of Watchung, N.J., Pamela Collins of Ocean City and Deirdre Wilson of Stevensville; a sister, Gertrude Zahn of Woodlyn, Pa.; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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