Born Sept. 21,1915 on a farm in Granite, in Baltimore County, Ms. Poe was the youngest of five daughters born to Worthy and Bertha Poe. Her family moved to Laurel during her childhood. She attended a one-room school, Edgewood, on Gunpowder Road, where there were 20 students in grades one through seven. Ms. Poe graduated from Laurel High in June 1931 at the age of 15. She landed a job as legal secretary for Bowie McCeney's father, George McCeney, and left in 1936 to attend law school.
During her entire 41-year newspaper career that involved putting out 2,132 editions of the Leader, she worked at 357 Main St., the same address where she first started working for the McCeneys.
For many years, she lived at her family's home at 708 Montgomery St., before moving to a home on Briarcroft Lane. When she retired in 1980, she moved to her current home in Ashton.
Laurel resident C. Philip Nichols Jr., a retired Prince George's Circuit Court judge, remembers an encounter with Ms. Poe during his childhood. "As a child and next-door neighbor, I pulled up her prize-winning tulips, put them in a bouquet and knocked on her door," Nichols said. "She was nice enough to only turn me over to my father for punishment instead of handling it herself, which under the rules at the time would have been fine. She also did not carry a grudge since she was nice enough to sign my application to practice law 20 years later."
Nichols said Ms. Poe was, "in every sense of the word, a modern-day woman. She went to law school before it was widely accepted and became a female newspaper editor long before that was routine. She knew her people and she understood the rules of good journalism. We all benefited from her devotion to her profession."
Ms. Poe's retirement years were filled with traveling to Europe, the Southwest, Alaska and other places. She was frequently asked to deliver speeches, and joined the Captain John Chapter of the Maryland Questers, a group devoted to the preservation and restoration of existing landmarks and the acquisition of antiques.
She was a charter member of the Laurel Historical Society and Laurel Museum, and at the Historical Society's 2004 gala she was honored for her contributions to the Laurel community. In 1970 she was editor of the community history booklet celebrating Laurel's centennial. The electric typewriter that she used in her 357 Main St. office and in her home for decades is on display in the Laurel Museum. She never joined the technology age nor used a computer or smartphone.
Ms. Poe was a devoted member of First United Methodist Church of Laurel since 1925. On her 99th birthday, the Poe Chapel and a commissioned stained glass window depicting the 23 Psalm were dedicated at the church.
Since 1980, she has endowed a scholarship fund at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism to "assure the future strength and vigor of the free press at all levels."
She received many honors, awards and mementos, which she displayed proudly in her home.
In a 2015 article in the Laurel Leader on the occasion of her 100th birthday, Ms. Poe said hers has been "a good life and a good livelihood." She wrote in her 2004 autobiography: "What a wonderful life, I have had," and in the autobiography credits others, not herself, for her many achievements and successes.
Although she never married or had children, Ms. Poe was very close with her three nieces and their children and grandchildren. Last week, children from the neighborhood visited Ms. Poe and sang for her.
She is survived by her nieces Jacqueline King Ryder (John) and Joanne King Rodgers; 10 great nieces and nephews, Vicci Rodgers, David Rodgers, Lisa Kuehl, Dan Rodgers and Amy Salmon; Michael Ryder, Craig Ryder and Tom Ryder; Jennifer Burk and Rebecca Stewart; and more than 25 great-grandnieces, great-grandnephews and great-great-grandnieces and grandnephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Worthy and Bertha Poe; her sisters, Verna Poe, Myrtle Donaldson, Margaret Vogts and Ruby King; and her niece, Joyce Ann Donaldson Burk.
A celebration of life service will be held Aug. 12 at 11 a.m. at First United Methodist Church of Laurel, followed by a reception at the church hall. Interment is private.
Memorial donations may be made to the Poe Endowment Fund: First United Methodist Church of Laurel, fumcl.org/worship/the-poe-chapel; the Olney Theatre, Poe Opening Night Fund, olneytheatre.org/support; and the Laurel Historical Society, Poe Memorial Fund for the digitization of the Laurel Leader, laurelhistoricalsociety.org/donations.html.