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Dinah K. Faber

Dinah K. Faber, a writer, photographer and historian who was known as "the Booth Lady" for her preservation work on Tudor Hall, the Harford County home of the famous Booth family, died Sunday of colon cancer at her Colby, Kan., home.

She was 62.

The daughter of farmers, Dinah K. Faber was born and raised in Colby and graduated in 1967 from Brewster High School.

She earned a degree in anthropology from Kansas State University and a master's degree in English in 1980 from the University of Arkansas.

While a student at Kansas State, she met and fell in love with Ben Knight, whom she married in 1978.

In the early 1980s, Ms. Faber worked for the Bloomington, Ill., public library system and then after her father's death in 1983, moved back to Kansas and took a job with the learning center at Colby Community College.

In the 1990s, she worked as development coordinator for the Nature Conservancy in Topeka, and moved to Bel Air in 1995, when her husband, a software designer, took a job in Baltimore.

Ms. Faber, who had always loved history, became fascinated with Tudor Hall, the Gothic home that had been built in 1847 on an 8-acre parcel between Bel Air and Churchville, by actor Junius Brutus Booth.

It was here that the 10 Booth children — including actor Edwin Booth and Abraham Lincoln assassin Johns Wilkes Booth — were raised.

Ms. Faber became Tudor Hall's unofficial historian while immersing herself in the history of the Booth family, which she has spent the last 15 years researching.

"Most people are surprised to find out how prominent the Booths were nationally before the assassination," Ms. Faber told The Baltimore Sun two years ago. "You know how proud Harford County is of the Ripkens? Back then, it would've been the same for the Booths. They're the most nationally known family to ever come from the area."

"Dinah was an extremely thoughtful person and she never went into anything half-cocked. She always put a lot of thought into what she did," said Maryanna Skowronski, director of the Historical Society of Harford County.

"She was an enthusiastic advocate for the history of Harford County. … She was frustrated that the assassination of Lincoln overshadowed the contributions of the Booth family," she said. "They really were the Barrymores of their day and they were adored throughout the country."

She said Ms. Faber was a "big proponent of the Booth women who held the family together."

When the fate of Tudor Hall was in doubt, it was Ms. Faber who persuaded Harford County Executive David Craig to have the county purchase it in 2006.

"She took this on wholeheartedly and saw it as a chance to save the house," said Ms. Skowronski.

James T. Wollon is a noted preservation architect and architectural historian whose great-grandfather, Samuel Kyler, purchased the house from the Booth family in 1876.

"Dinah knows more about the house than anyone. She was absolutely devoted to her research and her death is a real loss," he said. "She knew more about it than my family who had forgotten things or never known them."

"It was an avocation that turned into an occupation," said Laurie Verge, director of the Mary Surratt House in Clinton. "Dinah was a wonderful resource and I was always siccing authors and others who had questions on her. If she didn't know the answer, she knew where to find it."

Ms. Faber had been president of the Junius B. Booth Society and a member of the Preservation Association of Tudor Hall. Last year, she was presented the Archer Award for her years of work with the county historical society.

She was the author of two booklets, "Edwin Booth: Harford County's Prince of Players" and "Joseph and Ann Hall: Behind the Scenes at Tudor Hall."

Beginning in 2008, she was coordinator of Spirits of Tudor Hall, a volunteer organization whose purpose was to keep the home open on a regular basis for guided tours.

Ms. Faber, who was diagnosed in the spring with the cancer that ended her life, returned to Colby this summer to be closer to her family, her husband said.

She enjoyed hiking.

Services in Colby are private.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by her son, Sajid Khan of Colby; a brother, Jack Faber of Brewster, Kan.; a sister, Kathleen O'Neal of Colby; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. An earlier marriage ended in divorce.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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