Catherine Cecilia Funk, 83, mother of 10 `made life fun'

May 02, 2006|By JACQUES KELLY | JACQUES KELLY,SUN REPORTER

Catherine Cecilia Funk, the matriarch of a family of 10 who believed there was always room for a neighbor's child at her table, died of cancer Saturday at her Overlea home. She was 83.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Shirey Avenue in the city's Lauraville neighborhood, the former Catherine Cecilia Joyce attended St. Dominic's Parochial School and graduated in 1938 from St. James the Less Commercial School.

Family members said she decided to become a secretary to help support her mother and younger siblings after the death of her father. She worked at Leeds Inc., a men's clothing store on West Baltimore Street, and at Montgomery Ward until 1947, when she married Gilbert R. Funk Sr., an Allied Bendix Aerospace manager.

The next year, the couple bought a new home on Elmwood Road in Overlea, where they raised four sons and six daughters, who were born between 1948 and 1968.

"To say my mother liked children was an understatement. The whole neighborhood seemed to gather at our house," said a daughter, Sueanne F. Spivey of Overlea. "It was like the rec center of Overlea."

Her daughters said that she served healthful meals, not permitting her children to have many sweets or soft drinks, though she always kept a plain Hershey bar or York Peppermint Pattie in her purse. She refused to use commercial cake mixes and made her children's birthday cakes.

As a treat, she allowed her children to share the cream that rose to the top of the bottles of Koontz Dairy milk that was delivered to their home. The family consumed a gallon a day.

"She really made life fun for her kids," said another daughter, Deborah Funk of Baltimore. "She knew how to make a game out of buffing the waxed floors. Mom would put the coat of wax down and let it dry. Then she'd put old socks on the kids and let us skate on the floor to start buffing it."

As her children grew up and left home, she missed having youngsters around and became a library volunteer at St. Michael the Archangel School in Overlea, where her children had been students. She stepped down two years ago after 25 years there.

Mrs. Funk kept a large perennial and vegetable garden in her backyard. She grew tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and lettuce, and cultivated roses from cuttings from her mother's garden.

In the early years of their marriage, the Funks bought a World War II-vintage Army tent and used it for family camping trips to Cowans Gap State Park in Pennsylvania or the Great Smoky Mountains. They later upgraded their camping equipment, and after their children were grown, she and her husband made two cross-country trips in a travel trailer.

In her free time, Mrs. Funk solved newspaper crossword puzzles and read mysteries.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation, 5212 McCormick Ave. in Overlea, where she was a member.

In addition to her husband and daughters, survivors include four sons, Raymond M. Funk of Sarasota, Fla., James G. Funk of Forest Hill, Stephen E. Funk of Parkville and Gilbert R. Funk of Rockville; four other daughters, Kathleen Wilson of State College, Pa., Linda Brenegan of Baltimore, Joyce Parks of Satellite Beach, Fla., and Mary Patricia Ginter of Baltimore; a sister, Eileen Robinson of Overlea; 16 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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