Mary Jane Shields-Komber, a retired nursing companion who was an accomplished social pianist, died of a respiratory illness Tuesday at Stella Maris Hospice. The Towson resident was 79.
Born Mary Jane Cleary in Baltimore, she attended St. Ann's Parochial School and was a 1946 Seton High School graduate and appeared in the school's theatrical productions.
She became a Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone service representative and later sold the World Book Encyclopedia. She was an Immaculate Heart of Mary School teaching assistant, and after study at a Red Cross nursing program, she received her nursing-assistant certification and was a private-duty companion nursing assistant for 15 years.
She played the piano by ear and often entertained family and friends. In her younger years, she danced five nights a week at Goetz's Barn and the Greenspring Inn.
"My mom was my unofficial press agent," said John E. Shields, who named his Baltimore Museum of Art restaurant after Mrs. Shields-Komber's mother, Gertrude B. Cleary. "My mother inherited her mother's fondness for food and hospitality, and always kept her home vibrant with family, friends, food and music."
Mrs. Komber assisted relatives who were sick. Family members said if someone needed assistance, she often took them into her home. She often wrote poetry and was known as the laureate of the Towson apartments where she resided.
She outlived two husbands. Pierce C. Shields died in 1958. John L. Komber died in 1973.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at noon today at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, 200 Ware Ave. in Towson, where she was a member.
In addition to her son, survivors include another son, J. Patrick Komber of Baltimore; three daughters, Patricia Shields-Davis of Pasadena, M. Lynn Komber of Portland, Ore., and Kathleen M. Komber of Joppa; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandson.