Kathlyn "Taffy" Mellor Leahy, who as Hutzler's personnel director and editor of employee publications helped foster the image of the Howard Street department store for more than 40 years, died July 21 at Carroll County General Hospital of upper respiratory failure. She was 81.
Working out of a fifth-floor office in the store's downtown headquarters, Mrs. Leahy -- who held a master's degree in retail marketing -- supervised the hiring of hundreds of employees, including "sales associates," as salespeople were called then.
But within the store, she was at least as well known for editing a weekly bulletin that offered suggestions to associates, as well as a quarterly company magazine.
The newsletters gave advice on sales techniques, how to dress, proper demeanor and etiquette, as well as reaffirming and emphasizing the store's widely recognized penchant for customer service and satisfaction.
"She set the tone of what Hutzler's was all about and what the company stood for," said Hannah Mazo, who worked with Mrs. Leahy in the store's personnel department from 1962 until 1989. "She was a high-energy type who always had her finger on the pulse of what was happening within the company. She always sought to present Hutzler's in a positive light, and everyone always looked forward to her bulletins and magazines," she said.
"She was always upbeat," recalled Albert D. Hutzler III, vice president of stores from 1965 to 1976 and now a stockbroker in Palm Beach, Fla. He described Mrs. Leahy as "a nice lady who edited an excellent magazine that sought to explain what Hutzler's and its employees [were] all about."
She was born Kathlyn Mellor in Sykesville, the daughter of Edwin M. Mellor Jr., who was Carroll County sheriff and later clerk of the Circuit Court, and Margaret M. Mellor.
The family moved to Westminster, and she was a 1930 graduate of Westminster High School. She earned her bachelor's degree from Western Maryland College in 1934 and a master's from New York University in 1935, the same year she went to work for Hutzler's.
In 1938, she and James Gloyd Leahy, a canning company executive, were married. They moved to Willis Street in Westminster, where she lived until moving several years ago to the Long View Nursing Home in Manchester.
Mr. Leahy died in 1966.
Mrs. Leahy belonged to Ascension Episcopal Church in Westminster. A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Aug. 12 at Ascension Episcopal Church, 23 N. Court St., Westminster.
Survivors include a son, J. Brooks Leahy of Westminster; a daughter, Ellen L. Willis of Westminster; two sisters, Elizabeth "Busy" M. Johnson of Fort Belvoir, Va., and Jane M. Riehl of Westminster; and three grandchildren.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Ascension Church Memorial Fund, 23 N. Court St., Westminster 21156; or the Long View Nursing Home Fund, 3332 Main St., P.O. Box 390, Manchester 21102.