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Tulia Briscoe, 61, immigrant advocate


Tulia Maria Briscoe, an advocate for Hispanic immigrants who helped those newly arrived in Baltimore, died Thursday in an automobile accident while driving home to Stevenson from her volunteer job. She was 61.

After spending the morning at St. Michael's Outreach Center in Upper Fells Point, she was driving on Old Court Road when her car struck a utility pole.

Born in San Gimignano, Italy, Tulia Maria Boldrini was raised in Argentina, where her family moved after World War II. She later resided in Lima, Peru.

Sponsored by the Rotary Club in Hershey, Pa., she came to the United States in 1967 through its Experiment in International Living. She had a job preparing drawings for a Washington architectural firm when she met her husband, Dr. Brian D. Briscoe of Baltimore - a son of the first Jewish mayor of Dublin, Ireland, and brother of another.

They were married in 1970. Dr. Briscoe, who survives his wife, is a radiologist at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in downtown Baltimore.

"She was full of life and love," said Lacy Flynn, a friend. "She extended herself and was one of the most generous human beings I've ever encountered. Her circle of friends often included new arrivals in Baltimore who came from other parts of the world."

After Mrs. Briscoe saw a request for Spanish-speaking volunteers, she joined the community outreach center and worked there two days a week.

"She was a competent, thorough and calm individual," said Lisa Knickmeyer, the center's director. "She was here from the day we opened. She spoke Spanish fluently and worked with the senior English-speaking population of Southeast Baltimore on one day and the next with the Latino immigrant people. She just radiated kindness - people felt comfortable in her presence. I can attribute a lot of the success of our program to her."

Mrs. Briscoe was also a ceramist and active in the Potters Guild. She made pots, ceramic flowers, small animals and miniature streetscapes that she occasionally exhibited.

"She had a natural ability. If she wanted curtains, she made them. If something needed to be upholstered, she did it. If we wanted another room for the house, she'd design it," said a son, Adrian Daniel Briscoe of Brooklyn, N.Y. "She could draw, knit, make her own clothes, but her greatest skill was with people."

"My mother was a devout Catholic, but she prepared large Passover seders," said her other son, Robert Briscoe of Cambridge, Mass. "She would cook all day. She took a great joy helping my father celebrate the Jewish holidays."

Mrs. Briscoe also enjoyed gardening. She grew flowers and vegetables at her home and planted plots around an outdoor World War II memorial and next to a shrine to the Virgin Mary at St. Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church in Pikesville.

"She tended a beautiful garden, planted it and weeded it. She would spend all day there in the middle of the summer," said Margaret Cassaday, the parish secretary. "She was an amazing person, so willing to work and so organized."

Mrs. Briscoe coordinated her parish's food donations to Our Daily Bread, the soup kitchen.

A Mass of Christian burial was offered Monday at the Pikesville church, where she was a member.

In addition to her husband and sons, she is survived by a daughter, Carla Ruth Briscoe of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and two sisters, Lola Chang and Ludi Davalos, both of Lima, Peru.

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