Madeline Victoria Svec, a retired Westinghouse payroll clerk and musical theater patron, died of a stroke Feb. 22 at St. Elizabeth Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. She was 96.
Born in East Baltimore, she was the daughter of Josef Svec, who came to Baltimore from the village of Velesice in what is today's Czech Republic, and his wife, Frances Skrivan. Except for a few years living above her stepfather's business, the Tyc Bakery at Montford Avenue and Madison Street, she lived for 92 years in the home of her birth on North Port Street.
After graduating from St. Wenceslaus School in 1928, she went to work at the Schluss Brothers Tailoring Co. in an entry-level position cleaning coats. After a few years of pulling the basting threads from newly tailored coats, she was asked to take a position in the payroll office.
Miss Svec credited her handwriting and attributed it to the nuns at St. Wenceslaus School for making her advancement possible. After spending a few years as a billing clerk at Montgomery Ward and as a payroll clerk at New Empire Tailoring Co., she became a comptometer operator in the payroll office at Westinghouse Electric Co. She worked there from 1941 until her retirement in 1975.
As a young woman, Miss Svec was interested in sporting activities and fenced, played tennis and rode. She loved dancing and celebrated her 94th birthday at the Czech Festival, where she danced the polka with her nephews and great-nephews, each of whom she had taught to dance.
"She loved Baltimore and the romance of the city," said her nephew, Mark Supik of Baltimore.
Miss Svec attended the opera and musical theater and traveled. In the 1930s, she volunteered as a supernumerary when the Metropolitan Opera visited the Lyric. She appeared onstage in an alligator costume for "Aida."
Her interest in travel took her to the Caribbean; Egypt, where she viewed the pyramids from the back of a camel; Istanbul; and most of Europe, including Central and Eastern Europe before the fall of communism.
She made several trips to England, including one on the then-new Queen Elizabeth II. In her mid-80s, she said she went to London to "see a few shows."
A Mass of Christian burial was offered Wednesday at St. Wenceslaus Roman Catholic Church.
She is survived by three other nephews and two nieces.