Eleanor Aldridge, who with her husband opened Reno's Restaurant more than 50 years ago at a rural crossroads in Gambrills, died of pneumonia Thursday at Anne Arundel Medical Center. She was 92.
For more than two decades, she ran the business side of the small restaurant and did much of the home-style cooking.
In retirement, she continued to make the coleslaw and soups as well as a few other dishes. In recent years, as her health declined, she did not cook but came in a few times a week to look in on the kitchen, see customers and chat with family.
She had lived in an apartment behind the restaurant since its opening.
Eleanor Lorenz was born in Baltimore and grew up on her family's truck farm in Ferndale. After finishing high school, she took a job at the old Bickford's cafeteria in Baltimore while attending Strayer's Business College at night. After graduating, she became a manager for Bickford's.
She met Reno A. Aldridge at work, and they wed in 1935.
The couple established the Kenwood Cafe in Baltimore in 1937. They sold it and opened Reno's Restaurant in 1953 at the intersection of routes 450 and 424. The restaurant lot also served as a Greyhound bus stop.
From the restaurant, she saw the community grow from sleepy rural to the now-bustling Gambrills-Crofton area, said daughter-in-law Rea Aldridge of Gambrills, who joined the business with her husband, Reno C. Aldridge, in 1976. They continue to own and operate it.
Eleanor Aldridge retired in 1979 but remained a presence at the restaurant.
"She couldn't keep from coming in and doing some work," said Rea Aldridge. "That restaurant was her life."
In addition to cooking, Mrs. Aldridge made dinners for her extended family for major holidays until her health declined in her later years.
Her husband died in 1991.
Mrs. Aldridge was a member of St. Mary Roman Catholic Church in Annapolis and of Our Lady of the Fields Roman Catholic Church, 1070 Cecil Ave. South in Millersville, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at noon today.
Other survivors include a sister, Agnes Williams of Ferndale; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. A daughter, Carolyn Aldridge, died in 1943.