Marie Benick, who lived to be 107 and enjoyed hot fudge sundaes and roller coaster rides, died Friday at her home at Brightview Assisted Living in Towson. Family members said she lived independently until February, when she had a minor stroke that contributed to her death.
Born Katherine Marie Overman on May 29, 1906, in Baltimore and raised on Ann Street in Fells Point, she was the daughter of Frederick Overman, a captain on a city fireboat, and Mary Elizabeth Selby, a homemaker. She completed the ninth grade in Baltimore public schools. She later took shorthand and typing at the Strayer Business School.
She told her children and grandchildren that one of her earliest childhood memories was hearing neighbors talk of the Titanic's sinking in April 1912. She also recalled hearing newsboys call out "Extra" to sell papers around that time.
At age 16, she got her driver's license and drove for 77 years — until she was 93.
As a young woman, she worked in The Baltimore Sun's classified advertising department. She recalled a young photographer in the building — the celebrated A. Aubrey Bodine. She also liked roller coasters and during the 1920s, she rode one nine times while on a date. She later told family members her date never asked her out again after that.
She went on to have a blind date with a Baltimore pharmacist, Carroll Benick. They married in 1931. She worked alongside him at his pharmacy and soda fountain on East Lafayette Avenue in East Baltimore. She handled his financial paperwork.
"As a 3-year-old, I remember pulling a step stool up to the soda fountain and drawing my own Coke," said her daughter, Carol Dix of Baltimore.
The couple and their two daughters moved to a home on the Chesapeake Bay near Breezy Point.
"She loved the location but never went in the water," her daughter said.
Her husband died in 1954. Because of his poor health, they had previously sold the pharmacy and she decided to start working again. She took a job for a brief period at the old Hutzler's department store and then became a secretary at the Department of Pediatrics at University of Maryland Medical Center. She worked for 15 years and retired in 1977.
She also gave up the eastern Baltimore County home and moved to Northeast Baltimore. Most recently she lived at Parkview Assisted Living. She declined to use a cane or walker.
"She was an inspiration because of her fiercely independent spirit, her wisdom and her wit," said her granddaughter, Susan Gabler of Hanover, Pa.
She remained an ardent amusement park-goer and liked to treat her family to a day at Hershey Park, although she gave up riding roller coaters and similar rides in her 80s. She told her family that instead of buying her birthday gifts, she preferred to go on antique shopping trips, to restaurants or the theater with them.
"She loved the sour beef at the Silver Spring Mining Company or going to the Williamsburg Inn or Bowman's," her daughter said. "In the old days she liked Haussner's, the Orchard Inn or Schaefer's Canal House."
Her favorite indulgence was a hot fudge sundae.
She also liked the theater and recalled many enjoyable trips to the Hippodrome. After the theater reopened in 2004, she returned to it for revivals of classic musicals.
She collected antiques and traveled as far as Adamstown, Pa., in search of her favorite china pieces and carnival glass.
Mrs. Benick lived independently and handled her own finances until the late winter. She was then diagnosed as having had a small stroke and moved to Brightview in Towson, but she still resisted using a walker.
Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.
In addition to her daughter and granddaughter, survivors include a grandson and four great-granddaughters. A daughter, Lois Keyser, died in 1990.