Myrtle Einhorn

[ Age 84 ] The East Baltimore resident was a community activist who fought for the needy, the elderly and children.

November 27, 2006|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,sun reporter

Myrtle Ester Einhorn, a community activist and former supervisor of an anti-poverty program for the elderly, died Wednesday of congestive heart failure at Mariner Health of Bel Air. The longtime East Baltimore resident was 84.

She was born Myrtle Tusing in Lost River, W.Va. Her mother died when she was 5, and Mrs. Einhorn was raised in a series of foster homes where she did difficult farm work during the Depression. She completed school through the eighth grade.

After an early marriage ended in divorce, Mrs. Einhorn moved with three children to Baltimore and took a job in a factory sewing women's clothing. She became active with the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, and went on to work for them as an organizer.

She married a fellow ILGWU organizer, Samuel Einhorn, who died in 1989.

Mrs. Einhorn left her union job in the 1950s to care for her family and quickly became involved in improving her community.

A Sun article in 1962 reported that Mrs. Einhorn used the $20 stipend she received from St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church as a part-time parish social worker to rent the littered vacant lot beside her home on North Broadway. She watched over the children from her kitchen window and inspired others to donate equipment and money.

Her daughter, Judy S. Benser of Joppa, said Mrs. Einhorn started the East Baltimore Children's Fund to raise money for projects, including the playground and a Christmas toy drive.

In 1965, Mrs. Einhorn was offered a position with a new organization set up by the federal Office of Economic Opportunity called Operation REASON, designed to address the needs of ill senior citizens. The staff visited clients in their homes, helped them get to appointments and brought them medications, among other services.

When the federal government decided to cut the program's funding after two years, Mrs. Benser, who was 16 at the time, said she joined her mother and other activists in wheeling several dozen frail elderly people at a White House protest. President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration restored the funding.

"My mom just adored people," her daughter said. After a difficult childhood "she took that horror, and she chose to have a Christian life. ... Her whole life was just fighting for people."

Mrs. Einhorn participated in the 1963 March on Washington, at which the Rev. Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech, and hers was one of the first white families to join St. Philip's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Baltimore.

At St. Philip's, she served as a Sunday school teacher, a vacation Bible school leader and a member of the women's group, said Yerley Fuller, a fellow church member. Mrs. Fuller recalled that Mrs. Einhorn also worked with youth at a community house established by an interfaith/interracial group on Fayette Street more than 40 years ago.

After she moved to Mariner Health of Bel Air five years ago, Mrs. Einhorn attended Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Edgewood.

She also volunteered at The Sharing Table food pantry in Edgewood, where a scholarship in her name was established to give children money for clothes and school supplies.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. today at McComas Funeral Home, 1317 Cokesbury Road, Abingdon.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Einhorn is survived by three sons, Elmer H. Miller of National City, Calif., Paul F. Miller of Abingdon and S. Cornel Einhorn of Lancaster, Pa.; another daughter, NoEl T. Hoffeld of Shakopee, Minn.; a brother, Curtis Tusing of Harrisonburg, W.Va.; 10 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and five great-great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by a daughter, Mabel E. Miller, and a great-great-granddaughter.

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