Eleanor S. Pope, a homemaker who knew the Jazz Age writer F. Scott Fitzgerald in her childhood, died Sept. 22 of kidney failure at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. She was 90.
The daughter of Bayard Turnbull, a noted Baltimore architect, and Margaret Carroll Turnbull, an educator, the former Eleanor Sterett Turnbull was born in Baltimore.
Mrs. Pope was raised at Trimbush, her family's 22-acre estate on La Paix Lane, west of York Road and north of Rodgers Forge.
Today, outside of the twin stone gates that mark the entrance to the lane, nothing remains of the old manor house that was demolished in 1961. The grounds are now occupied by the University of Maryland St. Joseph Hospital.
"Her lifelong interest in literature and writers was inspired in part with a childhood friendship with celebrated author F. Scott Fitzgerald," said her son, Frederick "Eric" Pope III, of Grosse Point, Mich.
Mrs. Pope's parents had endowed the Graeme Turnbull Lectures at the Johns Hopkins University, which brought many notable writers and poets of the 1920s and 1930s, such as T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, Robert Frost, Marianne Moore and Archibald MacLeish, to Trimbush.
Perhaps the most notable writer to live on the estate in those years was F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was related to the Turnbulls. With his wife, Zelda, and daughter Scottie, the family settled in 1932 into La Paix, a cottage on the grounds of the estate the Fitzgeralds rented from the Turnbulls.
The Fitzgeralds had moved to Towson to be near Shepherd Pratt, where Zelda was being treated for mental illness.
"My mother remembered often looking down the hill in the early evening to see Fitzgerald pacing the grounds and smoking a cigarette. At the time, he was completing his final novel, 'Tender is the Night,'" Mrs. Pope's son said.
Mrs. Pope was 9 when she became friends with Scottie Fitzgerald, who was 18 months older.
"She spent many hours playing with Scottie, but she sometimes had trouble being included when her older brother, Andrew, was around," Mr. Pope said. "She found a natural ally in Fitzgerald, who insisted at one point that Andrew could come to the house only if his younger sister was included."
"Mr. Fitzgerald was a kind man who was sensitive to the plight of the underdog," Mrs. Pope told family members. "He saw the trouble I was having and he took my side."
Andrew Turnbull, who was an instructor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1954 to 1958, later wrote a critically acclaimed biography of Mr. Fitzgerald. Mr. Turnbull died in 1970.
An older sister, Frances Litchfield Turnbull Kidder, who also knew the Fitzgeralds, died earlier this year.
After graduating from boarding school, Mrs. Pope went to New York, where she hoped to pursue an acting career.
"Her roommate in the 1940s was Peggy Cass, who went on to become a successful actress," her son said.
After the end of World War II, Mrs. Pope worked for the Red Cross in Japan. In 1948, she married Frederick Pope Jr. and they settled in Fairfield, Conn.
Her husband was majority leader of the Connecticut State House of Representatives from 1957 to 1958, and was minority leader of the State Senate from 1965 to 1968. The couple later divorced.
A Lutherville resident, Mrs. Pope was an avid reader and enjoyed attending the theater and movies. She was interested in the arts and liked to travel.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 19 at Immanuel Episcopal Church, 1509 Glencoe Road in Glencoe.
In addition to her son, Mrs. Pope is survived by four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Another son, David Sterett Pope, died in 2009.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun