Myrtle Greenwood

[ Age 105 ] The Baltimore native participated in the original human flag ceremony at Fort McHenry in 1914

December 14, 2006|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Myrtle M. Greenwood, who volunteered at Greater Baltimore Medical Center for more than 30 years and had been a member of the Sefton Avenue Buddies, died in her sleep Friday at Good Samaritan Nursing Center. She was 105.

A Baltimore native, she was born Myrtle Minton on Nov. 5, 1901.

"She was born near the old Lutheran Hospital in East Baltimore and raised at Lanvale and Dukeland streets. She lived in that house until 1938, when she moved to the 6100 block of Sefton Ave. in Hamilton," said a daughter, Ruth "Rudy" Bixler of Glen Arm. "Since 2001, she has been living at the nursing home."

As a schoolgirl, she participated in the original human flag ceremony at Fort McHenry in 1914, family members said.

She attended Western High School. In 1920, she married William E. Greenwood, a bonding officer with Fidelity & Deposit Co. of Maryland. He died in 1948.

"After he died, she said she'd never have another pair of men's shoes under her table," her daughter said.

From 1949 until retiring in 1968, Mrs. Greenwood was a receptionist for Symore Spector and Associates, a downtown law firm in the Equitable Building.

Mrs. Greenwood's volunteering began in the late 1930s when she volunteered at her children's schools and was an active PTA member. In 1941, she became a charter member of the Mother's Club at the Hamilton Recreation Center.

She was an active member of Aisquith Presbyterian Church in Hamilton, where her funeral was held Tuesday.

A church member since 1938, she was superintendent of the primary Sunday school department from 1950 to 1962 and enjoyed visiting shut-ins and the sick.

In 1967, Mrs. Greenwood joined the Board of Lady Managers with Presbyterian Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Charity Hospital, which merged with the Hospital for the Women of Maryland in Baltimore City to form Greater Baltimore Medical Center in the late 1960s. From 1968 to 1985, she volunteered in the chaplain's office.

In 1985, she moved to the hospital's medical library, where she helped catalog medical journals and did research for residents. She also worked one day a month helping the hospital's pharmacists assemble their monthly newsletter.

"During her years at GBMC, she accrued 8,010 volunteer hours and, at 97, was our oldest volunteer ever to have been here," said Janet L. Streit, director of volunteer services at the hospital.

"She was here faithfully every Monday. She was spry and very inquisitive, and had a sharp mind. She was a delight, and I looked forward to her coming in," said Deborah A. Thomas, the library director, who has a framed picture of Mrs. Greenwood over her desk. "She always spoke her mind and never minced words."

Publicity shy, Mrs. Greenwood didn't enjoy being featured in the hospital's newsletter and liked to grouse that the only reason she was being interviewed was "because I'm old," she said.

Her volunteering at GBMC ended in 1998, after she returned home one day in her green Buick after completing a shift.

"There was a yellow strip down the side and I said, `Mom, either you've hit a school bus or it sideswiped you.' After that, we made her stop driving and took the car away," her daughter said.

For years, Mrs. Greenwood was a member of the Sefton Avenue Buddies, volunteers who assisted senior citizens with their financial affairs, drove them to appointments and ran other errands.

"The 6100 block of Sefton Avenue is the finest block in Hamilton," Mrs. Greeenwood wrote in an unpublished biographical sketch. "The ladies call themselves the Sefton Avenue Buddies and are always looking out for one another. The Buddies are a good group and I'm proud to be one of them."

"She was a lovely neighbor who always contributed a lot. She willingly participated in all of our neighborhood things like the Flag Day Party and 4th of July Parade," said Jane Bradfield, a longtime friend and neighbor. "If you needed help, she was always there."

Mrs. Greenwood neither smoked nor drank. She was thin, never dieted and ate anything she liked. She did her own flower gardening and lawn maintenance until she was in her late 80s, when she turned over the task to her two daughters, whose last names begin with "B."

"She called us the B & B Lawn Service," Mrs. Bixler said.

"She was always on the go and never idle. She never wasted a minute of her life," Mrs. Bixler said.

"She didn't dwell on the past and kept up with current events. She didn't watch TV but liked listening to the radio and Orioles games. She was clear-minded until the end of her life."

At her funeral on Tuesday, there were no tears. She had lived a good long life, and everyone loved her."

Also surviving are a son, William E. Greenwood Jr. of Ocean City; another daughter, Jean Bowen of Catonsville; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

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