Katherine Tanzola, 80, horse lover


Katherine P. Tanzola, a woman with a profound love of people and animals, died of cancer at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Baltimore on Wednesday. She was 80.

Katherine Pouder was born in Union City, Ind., in 1919. She moved to Maryland in the early 1970s.

A lover of horse races, Mrs. Tanzola's enthusiasm led her to the track many afternoons.

"She never missed a Preakness," said Mary Jo Pons, a longtime friend whose family owns Country Life Farm in Bel Air.

"She was like my bossy older sister," Mrs. Pons said. "She was there when times were good, and she made the bad times easier. ... We were not related, but we were family. She was like an auntie to our children and grandchildren."

Before Mrs. Tanzola placed bets on horses, she spent years caring for them. She and her husband, Dr. James V. Tanzola, moved to Saddle River, N.J., in 1953 - the year in which they married - to open Saddle River Animal Hospital. The couple owned and operated the facility for 10 years.

In 1954, the Tanzolas hired James Wilson, a high school freshman. At the Tanzolas' urging, he studied to become a doctor. Mrs. Tanzola eventually talked Mr. Wilson out of veterinary medicine and into internal medicine.

"I probably would not have done it without her urging me on," said Dr. Wilson of his studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. "That meant a lot to me."

The doctor of internal medicine said he was not the only one upon whom Mrs. Tanzola freely bestowed her opinions and suggestions. "I'll remember her forthrightness. She always called a spade a spade," Dr. Wilson said.

In 1941, Mrs. Tanzola graduated with a degree in nursing from St. Vincent's Nursing School in Indianapolis. Although she devoted a great deal of care to improving the lives of others, there was a time when she needed help herself. In 1964, she and her husband divorced. A year later, Mrs. Tanzola was an admitted alcoholic. She began a rehabilitation program at a treatment center in New Jersey.

In 1970, Mrs. Tanzola became an instructor and lecturer at the Maryland Institutes of Alcohol Studies in Chestertown. In 1972, she was appointed director of the Maryland State Alcohol Highway Safety Institute in Chestertown.

In 1987, Mrs. Tanzola retired from her position as addictions coordinator for the Harford County Health Department.

Services were held yesterday at St. Margaret's Catholic Church in Bel Air, where Mrs. Tanzola was a longtime member.

Mrs. Tanzola is survived by cousins.

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