Norita Burke Messick (Baltimore Sun / March 29, 2012)

Norita Messick, a homemaker who attended Baltimore theaters for 80 years, died of dementia Sunday at the Arden Courts assisted-living facility. She was 99 and lived in Hamilton.

Born Mary Norita Burke in Baltimore and raised on Preston Street, she was a 1931 Seton High School graduate. "She loved to say she studied three Shakespeare histories, three tragedies, three comedies and three romances for each of her years there," said her son, Roger Messick of Baltimore. She also played cello in the school orchestra.

She studied library science at the Johns Hopkins University and worked for the Enoch Pratt Free Library for several years, where a memorial fund has been created in her name.

She married G. Samuel Messick, a Western Electric Co. payroll officer, in 1939. She also performed in Western Electric's theater group, the Point Breeze players.

"She never left her affection for the arts and impressing upon each of her six children a love of good books, poetry and a liberal education," her son said.

She later worked part time at the old Hochschild Kohn department store to help pay the tuition for her children, he said.

She was one of the first ushers to volunteer at the newly opened Morris Mechanic Theatre in 1967 and worked Wednesday matinees. "She was delighted to see traveling companies shape the show while in Baltimore to ready for an opening on Broadway," her son said. "Her collection of playbills reaches back to the 1920s until the Hippodrome reopened in 2004."

Mrs. Messick was a communicant at St. Dominic's Roman Catholic Church in Hamilton and sang in its choir. She was a Good Samaritan Hospital volunteer and attended classes at Notre Dame of Maryland University.

She and her husband enjoyed traveling throughout the world, her son said. Mrs. Messick's father had been a sea captain and brought her and a sister along on trips along the Atlantic seaboard. She later sought out those lighthouses as an adult traveler.

A Mass of Christian resurrection will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church, 740 N. Calvert St.

In addition to her son, survivors include three other sons, Raymond Messick of Towson, R. Christopher Messick of Milton, Del., and Richard F. Messick of Baltimore; a daughter, Rosalie Messick of Baltimore; a sister, Nina T. Oberle of Rochester, N.Y.; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 1988. A son, Robert Messick, died in 1964.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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