Marilyn Lee Brilhart

An Executive Secretary For 40 Years, She Worked For Baltimore Symphony Associates After Retirement

April 18, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Marilyn Lee Brilhart, a retired executive secretary who later volunteered and served as secretary of the Baltimore Symphony Associates, died Tuesday of a heart attack at St. Joseph Medical Center. She was 80.

Miss Brilhart, the daughter of a B&O railroader and a garment worker supervisor, was born and raised in Manchester, Carroll County.

She was a 1946 graduate of Manchester High School and attended what was then Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) for a year before transferring to the Bard Avon School in Baltimore.

Miss Brilhart worked as an executive secretary for Everett Hay, then president of Hay Brothers Insurance in Bel Air, now Hay Insurance Services, for more than 40 years.

"She was incredibly efficient and did everything that needed to be done," said Bill Hay, current president and son of Everett Hay. "She was so well-educated that she could spell any word any time."

Miss Brilhart had also been Bill Hay's baby sitter.

"She was wonderful and took care of two generations of Hay family members. I remember her telling me when she was my baby sitter, 'I saw what you did, and there's no use in hiding it,' " he said, laughing.

Her professional memberships included serving as president of the Insurance Women of Baltimore.

Miss Brilhart, who lived in the Ridgely Condominium Tower in Towson for many years, was an accomplished violist and had a deep appreciation for classical music.

After retiring from Hay Brothers in the early 1990s, Miss Brilhart began volunteering with the Baltimore Symphony Associates, where she was able to share her love of music with others.

Her volunteerism involved serving as symphony store manager and as boutique chairman for the BSO's annual Decorator Show House.

She was chairman of ticket sales, arranged tours of Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and arranged private parties.

From 2001 until her death, she was the paid secretary for the Baltimore Symphony Associates.

"Marilyn was a constant here for many years," said Dale Hedding, the BSO's vice president of development.

One of the soft-spoken Miss Brilhart's responsibilities was overseeing the Georgia and Peter Angelos Governing Members Lounge.

"She was the face of the orchestra for our donors and always took great care of them," Mr. Hedding said. "She had a wonderful memory and knew all of their individual names, which was very important."

Larry Townsend, vice president of membership for the Baltimore Symphony Associates, is a longtime friend.

"Marilyn was so much a part of so many things at the symphony for so many years. The symphony was her life. She was quite a lady," Mr. Townsend said.

"She could keep several balls in the air at the same time. She ran the donor members' lounge and came to know the names of several hundred people. She made sure the coffee, biscotti and candy were all properly placed and the room was neatly arranged," he said.

Symphony colleagues depended on her memory to recall the orchestra's history.

"She could recall details of events at the BSO from the distant past or the recent past, like what problems she encountered or which musician had played what despite being under the weather," Mr. Townsend said.

"For the last year, she'd come to work, go home to bed and then come back the next morning, and even though she was ill, she didn't want to stop," Mr. Townsend said.

Miss Brilhart was a world traveler and was a devoted Orioles and Colts fan.

In honor of Miss Brilhart's service to the orchestra, violinists Jonathan Carney, BSO concertmaster, and Igor Yuzefovich, an orchestra member, will perform a Mozart violin duet at her funeral service.

She was a longtime member of the Hunt Valley Presbyterian Church, 13015 Beaver Dam Road, Cockeysville, where services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday.

Surviving are several cousins.

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