Josephine K. Asendorf, 85, secretary and gifted quilter


Josephine K. "Jo" Asendorf, a retired secretary and accomplished quilter, died in her sleep Friday at her Ellicott City home. She was 85.

Josephine Kane was born in Baltimore and raised on Edmondson Avenue. She was a 1938 graduate of Western High School. She later graduated from Strayer's Business College.

Mrs. Asendorf worked briefly for a coffee importer and as an operator for Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. before taking a position during World War II with the Baltimore City Health Department, testing blood in a laboratory.

For 13 years, Mrs. Asendorf was a homemaker raising two sons. In 1968, she returned to work as a secretary to the director of Mount Hebron High School, a position she held until retiring in 1975.

"She was a very warm person and a friend to all the students. They loved her, and so did I," said Dorothy C. Carstens, a retired Mount Hebron High librarian.

Mrs. Asendorf was a lifelong member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Catonsville, where she and several other women who were interested in knitting and quilting formed a sewing circle.

"We called ourselves the Piecemakers, and we made baby blankets, lap robes, quilts, booties and clothes, which we donated to Lutheran World Relief," said Doris M. Reese, whose friendship with Mrs. Asendorf dated to their childhood.

"We'd meet once a month at someone's house, have lunch and then go to work. Through the years, we made more than 600 quilts, and Jo herself made 400 lap robes," Mrs. Reese said. "She did beautiful work, including smocked dresses. She was very handy with her hands."

"She made a large Early American-style quilt for me, which I have in my Delaware house. It took her nearly seven months to complete it, and she did it by herself," said her son Richard H. Asendorf of Ellicott City, a retired Howard High School social studies teacher. "She worked on a pingpong table and was very methodical."

For years, Mrs. Asendorf's knitting and quilts won ribbons at the annual Howard County Fair.

Mrs. Asendorf also enjoyed gardening, flower arranging and canning.

"She'd can tomatoes and make grape and blueberry jellies. When she put these items on the table, they didn't last very long," her son said. "She was also known for her orange cake, which she'd take to family reunions."

Mrs. Asendorf kept a book listing all of the birthdays of her family members and friends. "Last week, she had just finished her cards for the month of June," her son said.

Her husband of 42 years, E. Howard Asendorf, a BGE purchasing department worker, died in 1983.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. today at her church, 929 Ingleside Ave., Catonsville, where she had also been a Sunday school teacher.

Also surviving are another son, David K. Asendorf of Hampstead; and two grandchildren.

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