Emily Rosanah Stiffler, a retired secretary, longtime church organist and the unofficial historian of Parkton, died Thursday at Oak Crest Village in Parkville from complications after a fall April 27. She was 96.
"No one's indispensable," she told The Sun in August 1995 at a tribute to her by the congregation of Parke Memorial United Methodist Church in Parkton. She played the organ for almost 60 years.
Miss Stiffler had outlasted three organs, including a pump organ from the church's founding in 1888 that she discovered hidden in a back room soon after she began playing at the church in 1937. She served 19 pastors and saw five revisions of the Methodist hymnal.
Described as fiercely independent and frugal with her words, Miss Stiffler was in the process of moving to Oak Crest from the house where she had lived for 85 years, across the street from the church at in the 18900 block York Road.
Age and arthritis did not prevent her from organizing a music department at the retirement community, where she played piano and organ and sang in the choir until about two years ago, said her niece, Emily Carpenter Long of Phoenix. She also took up painting after retirement.
A Towson High School graduate, Miss Stiffler attended the Peabody Conservatory and Hood College, where she received secretarial training. She began work as an executive secretary at the Hubbs & Corning manufacturing company, then took the same post for the Black Manufacturing Co., a forerunner of Black & Decker Inc. She also had worked as a secretary for the dean of the Maryland College for Women in Lutherville and for the Baltimore County Health Department.
In her last position before retiring at age 69, she was secretary at the 7th District Elementary School in northern Baltimore County for more than 12 years.
"I found poems written about how she took care of everything, including children who needed buttons sewn on or who needed comforting," said her niece.
Miss Stiffler supported the Baltimore County Historical Society's museum in Cockeysville with items from the area's early settlement.
"She donated a lot of things from her father's store," said Marge Shipley, a volunteer at the museum. Among these are the sign from her father's general store in Parkton, J.C. Stiffler General Merchandise, as well as counters and floor scales.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Parke Memorial United Methodist Church, followed by a luncheon.
In addition to her niece, Miss Stiffler's survivors include a nephew, Roger Carpenter of Tucson, Ariz.; a grandniece; and two grandnephews.