Anna Kovens, 96, who for many years operated a West Baltimore department store with her husband, died Thursday of a heart attack at her daughter's home in Stevenson where she had lived for the past 31 years.
The former Anna Margolin was born in Ukraine, one of 12 children, and emigrated in 1908 with her family to East Baltimore where her father worked in the construction business. She attended public schools before leaving school to go to work to help support her family.
She married Morris Kovens, a Russian immigrant, in 1917 and the couple opened their first business, a confectionery store, in East Baltimore. They later operated a shoe store on Gay Street and a five-and-dime store on Lexington Street.
They opened M. Kovens Co., a department store, in 1929 in the 1300 block of W. Baltimore St. The store specialized in clothing, shoes and brand-name appliances and over the door was a sign that read: "Your credit is good with us." They operated the business for 41 years before selling it in 1970 to Drew National Corp. for $2.5 million.
"Their lives strictly revolved around work," their daughter, Faye K. Adler, said. "They lived over their stores and worked six days a week and didn't own a house until I was 10 years old when we moved to the Park Heights Avenue area.
"They were a team," recalled Mrs. Adler. "They would line the shoes up on a back stairwell and every night they would count the pairs to see how many they had sold."
After the business was sold, Mrs. Kovens worked for Mrs. Adler, who operated Sweet Treats on Reisterstown Road, until 1987 when Mrs. Kovens suffered a stroke.
"She was something. When she came into the store, she took command," the daughter said.
Her husband died in 1962. A son, Irvin Kovens, a power in Maryland Democratic politics, died in 1989.
She was a member of Beth Jacob Congregation for 52 years and was a life member of Hadassah.
Services were held yesterday. Interment was in Beth Jacob Cemetery in Finksburg. Religious services will be observed at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and 7:30 a.m. Monday at 3611 Anton Farms Road, Stevenson.
In addition to her daughter, she is survived by a son, Cal Kovens of Bal Harbour, Fla.; nine grandchildren; and 20 great-grandchildren.
Memorial contributions can be made to Beth Jacob Congregation, 5713 Park Heights Ave., Baltimore, Md. 21215.