Barbara "Babs" Piper, a former administrative assistant at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, died Wednesday of complications from acute bipolar disorder at her Rodgers Forge home. She was 63.
Born Barbara Ann Jensen in Baltimore, she was the daughter of William Jensen, who owned an East Baltimore hardware store, and Ann Trabert Jensen, a homemaker. She attended the old St. Bernard's Parochial School in Waverly and was a 1967 graduate of Eastern High School.
She earned bachelor's and master's degrees at Hopkins and an associate's degree in managerial science from its School of Continuing Studies.
She served in the Navy Reserves at Fort McHenry and at the Bethesda Naval Hospital as a commissioned officer in the Medical Service Corps in 1986. She left military service in 1993 and became inactive in 2000.
As a child living near Memorial Stadium, she waited in the parking lot for the baseball players and got autographs from Brooks Robinson and visiting Yankees such as Mickey Mantle. As a young woman, she worked with her father at his hardware store and parked cars for sports fans as a way to earn extra money.
A lifelong fan of the Orioles and Ravens, she met her future husband, Edward George Piper, while attending an Orioles-themed charity fundraiser at Christopher's near York Road.
She was administrative assistant to the dean at Hopkins' medical illustration department and later a regional manager in the Baltimore office of the Delmarva Foundation.
She left the foundation nearly 20 years ago so she could devote her time to taking care of her elderly parents.
"Babs loved taking care of them," said her husband, the director of public safety at the Georgetown University School of Law in Washington. "She was by nature a good Samaritan. But she was one who did not want recognition. She did not seek the limelight."
He said his wife regularly gave money to the homeless on the street. Mr. Piper said she drove him to catch trains at Penn Station and regularly sought out a man who used a wheelchair, spoke to him and slipped him cash.
"When she would go to the grocery store and see older people carrying their bags, she would ask them if they needed a ride home," Mr. Piper said.
He described his wife as a vivid storyteller.
"If she had an experience and told you about it, you would think you were there," he said.
He said she had backpacked throughout Europe during two summers.
"She probably had the best sense of direction I have ever encountered," Mr. Piper said. "When we visited London after our marriage, she was knowledgeable and well informed about the landmarks."
She also could disassemble a vacuum cleaner and repair it.
"She had a mechanical mind," he said. "She had a natural sense."
He said his wife operated in a small kitchen in Rodgers Forge but "worked miracles in putting food combinations together." She also grilled outdoors, where she made kebabs and enjoyed making Italian dishes.
She also liked to work quietly behind the scenes. When she, her husband and their son, Douglas Piper, a Coast Guard officer assigned to the Persian Gulf, attended an Orioles game, she went to the Orioles administration and had a welcome home message flashed on an electronic sign for her son.
"It was a complete surprise but the kind of act that Babs liked to do," he said. "She initially acted as if she had nothing to do with it."
At night, when there was no Orioles game, she played Rod Stewart music and danced in the living room.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at noon Saturday at St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church, 6428 York Road in Rodgers Forge, where she was a member.
In addition to her husband of 30 years and her son, who is a resident of Newport, R.I., survivors include a daughter, Elizabeth Trabert Piper of Baltimore; three brothers, Timothy Jensen of Baltimore, William Jensen of Sarasota, Fla., and Christopher Jensen of Baltimore; and two sisters, Diane Glover of Baltimore and Mary Carroll Shea of Georgia.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun