Lynda Ames

Lynda Ames in 1995 (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun / October 11, 1995)

Lynda Ames, a retired jewelry designer who later headed medical and other charity events, died of cancer Nov. 11 at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. She was 74 and lived in Owings Mills.

Born Linda Thema Reubens in Baltimore, she was the daughter of Ben Reubens, who owned the Belle Isle Taxicab Co. and was an insurance broker. Her mother, Augusta Reubens, was a homemaker who played the piano.

Raised in Fallstaff, she attended the Robert E. Lee School, Public School No. 49, and was a 1957 Park School graduate. She earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts at Carnegie Mellon University.

She then worked at Martin-Marietta Co. in Middle River. Family members said she helped create a logo for the Gemini space exploration program.

In the 1960s, she made jewelry at Designs by Harriet, a Pikesville shop. When the owner died, she took over the business and renamed it Gems & Jewelry, which she ran with a partner. She had shops in Pikesville and in Stevenson Village.

She met her future husband, Peter Brandwein, on a blind date at the Chesapeake Restaurant.

"She said that even if the date was bad, the food would be good," said her daughter, Beth Ames-Formosa of Palm Harbor Fla.

Ms. Ames was diagnosed with breast cancer 33 years ago. She joined the Reach for Recovery survivors' program and later worked with other survivors, encouraging them to dress stylishly and assume a positive attitude.

"She tried to get other survivors to lead normal lives, to dress well, and she advised them not to sulk," her daughter said.

"Lynda made our wedding rings," said Bonnie Serpick, a friend who lives in Timonium. "She told me she made the rings out of one piece of gold because it would bring good luck. We went on to become good, true friends. I think of her as a fighter. She was determined, and I often think of the way she said, 'I have a life to live.' "

Her friend of 47 years, Rosalie Buchsbaum, said Ms. Ames chose to make a career change after her diagnosis.

"Lynda wanted to make a difference and did so by giving of her time and herself. She regenerated and redefined herself. It was a rebirth of Lynda Ames," said Ms. Buchsbaum, who lives in Pikesville. "As a committee chair or fundraiser, she was direct, she knew how to run things and how to delegate. She was a leader."

Ms. Ames was a stylish dresser and was often photographed at the events she had a hand in organizing and promoting.

In a 1995 Baltimore Sun article, she described her taste: "I grew up in the '50s with cashmere sweaters, Bermuda shorts and poodle skirts. Everything was charcoal gray, pink or blue. It was total conformity. When I got older, I tried the wool blazer, wool slacks and white shirt. That wasn't me either. In the last 10 years or so, I've gotten more self-confident. I dress for myself now.'"

Ms. Ames was the 1995 chairman of Lifesongs for AIDS, and hosted the event, which featured singer Tony Bennett.

Ms. Ames also became a professional fundraiser for the Florence Crittenton Center, the Sexual Assault Recovery Center, the Maryland Food Bank and Juvenile Diabetes Association.

"She had an ability to reach out to people and draw them in," said a friend, Elliott Brager, an attorney who lives in Northwest Baltimore.

She volunteered with Hadassah, the Maryland Zoo, Chase Brexton Health Services, Moveable Feast, the Baltimore School for the Arts and the local chapter of the Susan Komen Race for the Cure.

She was also active in the Mildred Mindell Cancer Foundation.

"Lynda was dynamic," said Nan Rosenthal, a friend and fellow committee volunteer who lives in Baltimore. "It was a joy to work with her. She was a wonderful artist, a terrific personality and she had a great laugh."

She also served 14 years as president of the Saplin Hill No. 1 Community and of the Owings Mills New Town Association.

Services were held Nov. 14 at Sol Levinson & Bros.

In addition to her daughter and her husband of 38 years, a retired automobile financial and insurance officer, survivors include a son, Steve Ames of Elizabethtown, Ky; another daughter, Tammy Caperon of Finksburg; and five grandchildren. Her marriage to Steven Ames ended in divorce.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com