Anne D. Bendann, a retired interior designer and community volunteer who was active in women's issues and church affairs, died Jan. 4 from pancreatic cancer at her Homeland residence. She was 65.
The former Anne Duffy, the daughter of an investment banker and a homemaker, was born and raised in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
After graduating in 1965 from the Beaumont School in Cleveland, she earned a degree from Marymount College in Arlington, Va., where she studied art and design.
Ms. Bendann, who worked for more than three decades as an interior designer, began her career at Darr-Luck Associates in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood.
She later worked in Baltimore for Michael Asner & Associates and Innerspace, and from 1983 until retiring in 1997, she was with Swann Hall Associates.
"Anne was just tremendously talented and had a way with color and patterns," said Michael R. Hall, a principal in Swann Hall Associates. "It just came naturally to her, and she could generate many good ideas. She had a great personality and was a joy to be around. I've missed her every day since she retired."
"After she retired from her professional career, Anne found time to dedicate her energies to her community and her own personal growth. The past 13 years were transforming on both fronts," said her husband of 38 years, Lance Bendann, who owns Bendann Art Galleries in Lutherville.
Ms. Bendann was a strong advocate for women's issues.
"She wasn't a big committee person or fundraiser; she preferred hands-on work, getting down and involved quite literally on the street level," her husband said.
Ms. Bendann volunteered at the Safe House of Hope in Southwest Baltimore, where she supported women "who were caught in various cycles of poverty, addiction and prostitution," her husband said.
"She was a great volunteer here. She volunteered her time working with women who were exploited by sex trafficking and prostitution. Many of our clients are homeless," said Denene M. Yates, executive director of the Safe House of Hope.
"She got churches and people together and coordinated our donations to help our clients, whether it was clothing, furniture or hygienic products," said Ms. Yates. "She made sure our closets were always full."
Friends and family brought bags and boxes of clothes weekly that they deposited on the front porch of her Tunbridge Road home. They spilled over into her home and filled her garage and car, which she named "Sophie."
"I used to tease Anne by telling her that the Homeland Neighborhood Association had cited us for operating a Goodwill drop-off center in the neighborhood," Mr. Bendann said.
Another interest, which earned her a position on the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force last year, was the issue of human trafficking, particularly sex trafficking and the plight of immigrants caught in the grip of prostitution.
She served as a member of the task force Compassionate Brigade.
"Whenever someone who had been [a victim of] sex trafficking had to go to court against a perpetrator, Anne would go with them to support them and shield them from threatening looks and glances," Ms. Yates said.
Ms. Bendann had also been a longtime volunteer with the Maryland School for the Blind and was a volunteer reader for the Radio Reading Network.
Throughout her life, Ms. Bendann was a woman of deep faith who supported ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church. "She never felt that this position was in conflict with her own participation in the Catholic Church," her husband said. "She had great faith, but that did not eliminate the need for a change, in her view."
Ms. Bendann was greatly influenced by the work of Sister Joan Chittister, a member of the Order of St. Benedict who is considered a visionary voice and advocate for equality and justice in the Roman Catholic Church.
Last summer, Ms. Bendann heard Sister Joan speak at Chautauqua in upstate New York, and again in early November in Washington, her husband said. He said his wife was inspired by her teachings, and her "advocacy for justice, peace and equality, particularly in the church, struck a chord with Anne," he said.
Sister Joan had written, "Our role in life is to bring the light of our own souls to the dim places around us."
"This gave Anne's life great purpose. It really summarizes the path she took," Mr. Bendann said.
"She had a great heart for others and was a good woman," said the Rev. Michael J. Roach, pastor of St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Manchester, who married the couple 38 years ago. "Anne was one of the least self-absorbed people I've ever known and she had no foolish vanity," said Father Roach. "She was a great favorite of mine and a totally impressive woman."
Ms. Bendann was also interested in alternative therapies, which she enjoyed researching, including holistic living and spirituality.
She was a certified Reiki Master and volunteered her treatments at various venues, including at Martha's Place at the Newborne Community of Faith Church in West Baltimore and the Wellness House in Annapolis.
Ms. Bendann was a longtime member of a healing prayer group at St. Matthew Roman Catholic Church on Loch Raven Boulevard.
She was a founding member of the Friends of the Northeast Interfaith Labyrinth and Peace Garden, located on the grounds of St. Anthony of Padua Most Precious Blood Roman Catholic Church in Gardenville.
She enjoyed walking on the Northern Central Railroad Trail with Maggie, her Shetland sheepdog, and vacationing with her family in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Ms. Bendann was a longtime communicant of St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church in Govans, where she participated in the 1999 renovation of the church. She also was a Eucharistic minister and had served on the church's Art and Environment Committee and Facilities and Maintenance Committee.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 1 p.m. Jan. 19 at her church, 5502 York Road.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by a son, Christopher Bendann of Baltimore; a brother, Thomas Francis Duffy of Fountain Hills, Ariz.; a sister, Mary Duffy Holzheimer of Pepper Pike, Ohio; and two nieces.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun