Garnette Brant

Garnette Brant in her American Red Cross uniform from 1945. ( )

Garnette Lynch Brant, a retired real estate saleswoman who also had a Waverly consignment shop, died of congestive heart failure Nov. 19 at Stella Maris Hospice. She was 93 and lived in Lutherville.

Born Mary Garnette Lynch in Yadkin County, N.C., she was raised in Winston-Salem. She was the daughter of Sallie Wishon Ledbetter, an R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. employee, and Luther Lynch, a carpenter.

She graduated from Bowman Gray High School in 1937 and became a bookkeeper. In 1940, she left Winston-Salem and moved to Washington, D.C., to work in Army intelligence.

"She prepared and typed correspondence relating to Nazi German and Soviet Russian espionage operations working inside the United States," said her son, Joseph F. Brant of Port Deposit. "She was sensitive to the fact there were organizations working against the government."

In 1945, after handling correspondence from the Japanese-Americans who had been interned by presidential order, primarily on the West Coast, she decided to change careers.

"At that point she was so appalled by the plight of these American citizens she sought employment with the American Red Cross," her son said. "She was given the opportunity to travel in Europe and was stationed in Le Havre, France, at Camp Phillip Morris where American G.I.s waited to be shipped home."

Her son said she saw first hand the effects of combat on soldiers returning from battle.

"She felt that the soldiers in the Battle of the Bulge saw the worst combat of the war in Europe," he said.

She returned to Washington in 1946 and continued working for the Red Cross' administrative offices until 1950. In 1947, she joined fellow Red Cross overseas personnel as the guest of first lady Bess Truman at the White House for a ceremony.

A friend who lived on Baltimore's Bolton Hill suggested she take a job as secretary to the president of the Canton Railroad Co. The job was better paying than her Washington post, family members said.

She met her future husband, Donald Miller Brant, a cartographer with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, on a blind date arranged by a Bolton Hill neighbor.

After raising three sons, Mrs. Brant got her real estate broker's license and began selling residential properties with Pullen and Paul in Timonium.

"She was a realist, but was not a high-pressure seller," said her son, Joseph, director of facilities at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. "She was excellent at her job because she considered the needs of the buyer and seller and tried to guide people into a mutually beneficial arrangement. She was practical and thrifty."

In 1973, she rented a Greenmount Avenue shop adjacent to the old Zepp Photo Co. in Waverly and opened the Last Straw Shop for consignment clothing, collectibles, used furniture and antiques.

"My mother pursued a number of careers to maintain her own independence and provide for her family," her son said. "She liked the freedom of having her own business and she believed hard work was essential for a successful life."

She had one employee and often worked with families to clean out homes being dismantled after the death of a parent. She used her three sons to handle the moving of furniture and the sorting of possessions.

She stopped selling real estate nearly 17 years ago and gave up the consignment business more than 20 years ago.

In retirement, Mrs. Brant enjoyed reading, gardening and traveling to Europe. She was a member of the Johns Hopkins Club.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Andrew's Christian Community Church, Roland Avenue and Bellemore Road, where she was a member. She formerly belonged to Second Presbyterian Church.

In addition to her son, survivors include two other sons, Jeffrey P. Brant of Melbourne, Fla., and Jonathan M. Brant of Fallston; and two grandchildren. Her husband of 60 years died in August.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com