Marion E. Bruce dies at age 80

Marion E. "Mert" Bruce, a retired sausage maker and world traveler, died Sept. 2 of heart failure at Northwest Hospital Center. She was 80.

Marion Elizabeth Gillis, the daughter of a salesman and a laundress, was born in Baltimore and raised on Etting Street. She attended St. Peter Claver parochial school.

Mrs. Bruce went to work in the early 1950s for the Creighton Sausage Co. on Etting Street, and in 1954 was recruited by Henry G. Parks, who had established Parks Sausage Co. in 1951.

For the next 30 years until retiring in 1987, Mrs. Bruce worked as a sausage maker.

Mrs. Bruce, who had lived in Ashburton for more than 40 years, was also an accomplished seamstress and cosmetologist, family members said.

"She enjoyed buying clothes, especially shoes and glittery caps, and anything that related to fashion," said a daughter, Jeannette Hall of Ashburton. "She also loved cooking, entertaining and decorating her home."

In 1954, she married Charles T. Bruce, a Parks Sausage Co. executive, who died in 2003.

She was an active member of The Pyramids Inc., a social club that her husband had co-founded, and The Chatter Chicks, which she helped establish.

Mrs. Bruce was a world traveler, and one of her most memorable trips was a North Atlantic crossing on the Queen Elizabeth 2, family members said.

Mrs. Bruce was a longtime communicant of New All Saints Roman Catholic Church, Liberty Heights and Eldorado avenues, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

Also surviving are two sons, Robert Matthews of Ashburton and Walter Matthews of Martinsburg, W.Va.; three other daughters, Dorothy Taylor of Ellicott City, Sandra Fowlks of Ashburton and Renee Matthews of Reisterstown; a brother, Bernard "Pee-Wee" Gillis Jr. of New York City; 14 grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren. An earlier marriage to Walter Monroe Matthews ended in divorce.

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