Beatrice A. Schwartz, a retired real estate broker and volunteer, died May 22 of complications from dementia at Milford Manor Nursing Home. She was 96.
The daughter of Romanian immigrants, Beatrice Albin was born in Chicago and moved with her parents when they established a small clothing store, which later became Lee's Surplus.
Mrs. Schwartz was a Western High School graduate and in 1937 married Maurice Schwartz, who was a businessman and musician. He died in 1990.
She later earned her real estate license and was the founder of Albin Realty, where she specialized in helping low-income families purchase homes.
"She sometimes even loaned families money to help them get started. Later, people would say, without her help, they would never have had a home," said Rabbi Elissa Sachs-Kohen in her eulogy for Mrs. Schwartz.
In 1987, the Maryland Housing Policy Commission honored Mrs. Schwartz for working with low-income clients to make homeownership become a reality.
She began volunteering for the Red Cross as a first-aid instructor in 1938, and during World War II, assisted in blood drives. She later volunteered at Sinai Hospital and was a pioneer with her work with the Children's Guild. She was an original member in 1945 of the Maryland Committee for Day Care for Children.
During the 1960s, Mrs. Schwartz was active in the civil rights movement and founded and served as leader of a racially integrated Girl Scout troop.
"At one time, Beatrice led the only racially integrated troop in Maryland," said Rabbi Sachs-Kohen.
Active in Democratic politics, she served as a delegate to the Maryland State Constitutional Convention in 1967, and in the early 1970s she ran unsuccessfully for the City Council and the House of Delegates.
A fractured spine when she was 9 led to a lifetime of swimming. She participated in 20 Maryland State Senior Olympics and National Senior Olympics, concluding her last one in California when she was 90. She was still winning gold medals when she was in her 90s, family members said.
Mrs. Schwartz, who often swam three or four times a week at the Park Heights Jewish Community Center, specialized in the 500-yard freestyle and 100- and 200-yard backstroke.
A longtime resident of Cottage Avenue in the city's Park Heights neighborhood, she later moved to Bland Avenue.
Mrs. Schwartz was an opera fan and enjoyed going to New York to attend performances of the Metropolitan Opera Company and the theater. She also enjoyed travel and taking history, business and humanities courses at the University of Baltimore, and attending lectures at the Johns Hopkins University.
Services were held May 23 at Sol Levinson & Bros. in Pikesville.
Mrs. Schwartz is survived by two sons, Brian Schwartz of Baltimore and Ronald Schwartz of Kingston, R.I.; a daughter, Myra Schwartz of Arlington, Mass; a brother, Leon Albin of Baltimore; a sister, Bessie Hirsch of Baltimore; seven grandchildren; and a great-grandson.