Helen M. Gregg, an early resident of Rodgers Forge who became an indispensable presence to neighbors for more than 60 years, died of pneumonia Monday at her home. She was 87.
The former Helen M. Gernhart was born in Baltimore and raised on Park Heights Avenue. After graduating in 1936 from Forest Park High School, she studied at the Baltimore College of Commerce.
She worked as a Bendix Corp. operator of a Comptometer - an early adding machine - from 1937 until her marriage in 1940 to Edwin T. Gregg Sr., a Bethlehem Steel Corp. shipyard welder who later owned his own welding company.
With a borrowed down payment, the couple purchased a home in the 300 block of Dumbarton Road in the early 1940s. She remained there after her husband's death in 1990.
Her home, family and the community of neighbors were great sources of pride throughout her life, relatives and friends said.
"She was someone everyone knew and loved. She was always willing to help anyone," said Carol M. Saylor, a Dumbarton Road neighbor for 25 years. "She was a wonderful role model."
Her husband was the handyman for the neighborhood.
"She'd always say, 'If anyone needs anything fixed, come and see my husband,'" Mrs. Saylor said.
She described Mrs. Gregg as a "meticulous homemaker" who was a "product of her generation."
"She showed us how to hang laundry, when to change bed covers and replace winter rugs with summer ones. She even taught me the best time of the day to wash windows," Mrs. Saylor said. "She was the homemaker that stayed home and took care of her parents and her husband. I used to idolize her for how she kept such a tidy house."
Anyone who shoveled Mrs. Gregg's walk in the winter or did her a favor was rewarded with one of her home-baked apple pies.
An outgoing and friendly person, Mrs. Gregg made it a point to get to know her neighbors, their children and even the names of their pets.
She avoided joining clubs or other organizations, and preferred to devote free time to preparing meals for the ill, providing child care, and driving neighbors to the market, doctor's appointments or on other errands.
"She had a big Lincoln Town Car which she drove around until three years ago. And she was shy. She never wanted any recognition for her actions," said a granddaughter, Amy Kline of Anneslie.
"She was always looking out for people in the neighborhood and was steadfast in making sure that people were friendly," said Linda R. Miller, who has lived on Murdock Road in Rodgers Forge for 36 years and knew Mrs. Gregg since childhood.
Mrs. Gregg was also an avid daily walker whose perambulations carried her through Rodgers Forge and as far north as central Towson or south into Baltimore.
"She'd walk four or five miles a day, and you'd see her all over town. She just loved walking and talking to people she met along the way," Mrs. Miller said.
Mrs. Gregg remained "spry and with it until the end of her life," and enjoyed traveling and reading biographies and travel fiction, her granddaughter said.
She was a communicant of St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church, 6428 York Road, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Mrs. Gregg is also survived by a son, Edwin T. Gregg Jr. of Westminster; two other granddaughters; and four great-grandchildren.