Ethel Lineburg, a longtime Arbutus resident and co-owner of the former Leon's Triple L Restaurant, died July 8 of natural causes. She was 81.

Lineburg's death followed that of her husband, Leon Leroy Lineburg, on April 26. The couple had been married for 55 years.

They opened their restaurant, which became known by many in the area as an Arbutus institution, in 1959.

"She was there until the last day," said Loren Lineburg, the couple's only son.

The restaurant closed shortly after Leon Lineburg's death. It was open for the last day on May 31.

"This happens so often when someone passes and their mate does shortly after," said Nancy Ehrlich, 78, mother of former Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr.

Ehrlich, a longtime Arbutus resident, has known the Lineburg family for decades and often patronized the restaurant on East Drive.

"Arbutus lost two good people," said Ehrlich, adding, "They were very good to my son."

Ehrlich said that although she never went out to dinner with the couple, she recalls their kindness whenever she went to their restaurant.

"There was never a time when we left and she didn't give us a sticky bun or send us home with something extra like cookies," Ehrlich said.

Ethel Lineburg was born in 1933 to parents Virginus and Inez Riley, and was raised on Selma Avenue in Arbutus.

When her father died in 1937, she and three siblings were raised by their mother.

She graduated from Catonsville High School in 1951. Shortly after, she was hired as a secretary, where she worked until opening the restaurant with her husband.

She received the nickname "Eck" from her brother Jim Riley, 85, of Easton, who said he could never pronounce her name properly as a child.

"That's my baby sister," Riley said. "I'm the only one left."

Riley's family and his sister's family grew apart over the years when he moved away from Arbutus, he said.

"Her social life and my social life never crossed," Riley said. "They were always tied up in Arbutus."

Lineburg and her husband were members of the Rolling Road Golf Club and the Arbutus Social Club, Riley said.

"She was a great golfer," Riley said.

She was also a lover of cats, said Loren Lineburg.

"She was a cat loving person," Loren Lineburg said. "She had cats all her life."

Some described her as a "quiet" person.

"She chose her friends, and kept her business to herself," Ehrlich said.

Many remember her devotion to her husband.

"I think she was a lovely lady, worked very hard and was very devoted to Leon," said Terrance Nolan, an Arbutus lawyer who serves as president of the Arbutus Business and Professional Association. "I think she just decided that life wasn't worth living without him — something that happens with long-term couples."