Helen P. Hiteshew, 92, seamstress

March 20, 2006

Helen P. Hiteshew, who with five sons was the subject of geneticists' studies into hemophilia B, a hereditary bleeding disorder, died of dementia March 13 at St. Joseph Nursing Home in Catonsville. The longtime West Baltimore resident and mother of 14 children was 92.

Helen Phyllis Allenbaugh was born and raised in West Baltimore and graduated from St. Martin's High School.

In 1935, she married William Dorsey Hiteshew. The couple settled in Edmondson Village. Mr. Hiteshew died in 1986.

Because so many of Mrs. Hiteshew's sons were born with hemophilia, the brothers were widely studied by geneticists, including Dr. Victor McKusick at Johns Hopkins, who were interested in how gender-linked diseases are transmitted.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Hiteshews were the world's largest family of hemophiliacs, said Mrs. Hiteshew's son, Richard A. Hiteshew of Catonsville, who has the disease.

Two of her sons, Ralph F. Hiteshew and Robert A. Hiteshew, were infected with the AIDS virus from contaminated blood products used in transfusions; they died in 1995 and 1992, respectively.

Mrs. Hiteshew was active in many organizations, including the Baltimore chapter of the United Service Organizations, Catholic Charities, Our Lady of Victory Sodality, St. Martin's Home for the Aged and the National Hemophilia Foundation. She was also a Democratic elections judge.

Mrs. Hiteshew, an accomplished seamstress who stitched many christening gowns and First Communion dresses, did free alterations for those who could not afford to pay. She also loved the Orioles, classical music and reading.

A Mass of Christian burial was offered Friday at Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church in Arbutus, where Mrs. Hiteshew was a parishioner.

In addition to her son, she is survived by eight other sons, William Dorsey Hiteshew Jr. of Joppa, F. Donald Hiteshew of Baytown, Texas, Milton D. Hiteshew of Pasadena, John D. Hiteshew of Catonsville, Stephen C. Hiteshew of Phoenix, Ariz., Herbert F. Hiteshew of Baltimore, and Charles E. Hiteshew and Walter C. Hiteshew, both of Ellicott City; a daughter, H. Louise Lawson of Ellicott City; 35 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Hiteshew also was preceded in death by a daughter, Virginia A. Greenfield, and another son, Philip T. Hiteshew.

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