Anne Leavitt (Baltimore Sun )
Anne B. Leavitt, a retired registered nurse and an alto singer who was a longtime member of the Emmanuel Episcopal Church Choir and Baltimore Choral Arts Society, died June 21 of a stroke at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
She was 79.
The daughter of a dentist and a registered nurse, Anne Lovelace Gorsuch Benson was born in Baltimore and raised in St. Margarets and in a home next door to the old Marconi's restaurant on West Saratoga Street.
Mrs. Leavitt was a 1950 graduate of Eastern High School and earned her nursing degree at the old Hospital for the Women of Maryland in Bolton Hill.
The longtime Anneslie resident worked as a part-time registered nurse at Greater Baltimore Medical Center until retiring in the 1970s.
Music was an important part of Mrs. Leavitt's life, and in addition to being a longtime communicant of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Mount Vernon, she had been a member of its choir since 1954.
"She was a tremendous asset to the choir and had an incredibly long tenure of 53 years," said John W. Bowen, who is the church's choir director and founder of Opera Vivente. "She was incredibly dedicated and was always willing to substitute if we needed someone."
Mr. Bowen said their relationship was built on a shared "wry sense of humor which helped us get along."
"Anne was truly one of our matriarchs and a pillar of Emmanuel, and that's what comes to mind when I think of her," said the Rev. Rodney Hudgen, the church's rector.
"She transcended generations remarkably and was always surrounded by children and young people," he said. "She was sweet, gentle and had one of the most assertive spirits I've ever encountered."
"Anne was wonderful, and the best way to describe her was that she was very challenging and faithful. You always knew where you stood with her," said the Rev. Thomas L. Culbertson, former rector at Emmanuel.
"She was very forthright, and I suspect that came from her training as a nurse. She was a very authentic person," said Mr. Culbertson.
"She had a great voice, and on occasion she'd team up with someone and do a duet," he said. "She only retired from the choir a year or two ago."
Mr. Culbertson said that choir members had to audition each year and "couldn't rely on past performance."
"Every year, you had to come up to the mark, and Anne did," said Mr. Culbertson, who added that Mrs. Leavitt had been in her regular pew the Sunday before she died.
Mrs. Leavitt joined the Baltimore Choral Arts Society in 1983.
"Anne was a lovely, gracious woman, and a fine musician and a very committed singer. She was one of our most dedicated and loyal members," said Tom Hall, music director of the Choral Arts Society.
"Anne faced a lot of adversity in her life. Her husband had been killed in an accident when their car skidded on ice, and she survived," said Mr. Hall. "And she dealt with it courageously and gracefully."
"We became friends during the 1950s through a young adults group at Emmanuel," said Judith B. Hundertmark of Cockeysville.
"Her greatest interests in life were her singing, family and friends. She was the happiest when she was doing those things. She was a very good and caring person," said Mrs. Hundertmark. "She was also the kind of person who enjoyed a joke and a good party."
In addition to her choral work, Mrs. Leavitt volunteered at Greater Baltimore Medical Center and since 1991 at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.
Mrs. Leavitt, who moved to the Broadmead retirement community in Cockeysville three years ago, enjoyed gardening and was an accomplished watercolorist.
Mrs. Leavitt enjoyed driving and until recently drove every summer to Maine to visit her husband's relatives, who live near Pemaquid Point.
"She was taking a varied art class at Broadmead, and she really enjoyed that," said Mrs. Hundertmark, who added that her friend was "very well-liked" by her fellow Broadmead residents.
"They cared about her," she said.
She was married in 1955 to Dean Ellis Leavitt, who was a professor and associate dean of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. He died in 1989.
A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. July 21 at her church, 811 Cathedral St.
Mrs. Leavitt is survived by a son, Eric D. Leavitt of Hughesville; two daughters, Eleanor Leavitt-Evans of Bowie and Elizabeth Leavitt of Seattle; eight grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.