Anna C. Kahoe

The Baltimore Sun

Anna Cecelia Kahoe, who raised 16 children in a Harford County farmhouse that later became a homeless shelter bearing her name, died of congestive heart failure Wednesday at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson. She was 83.

Although the shelter has been moved to another location, it is still called Anna's House, in honor of Mrs. Kahoe, as well as a Biblical figure named Anna.

"You knew that she had a great compassionate heart because she was just so pleased that her home was being used for this," said shelter director Barbara Jones.

Anna Jenkins was the fifth of six children raised in a large farmhouse on Jenkins Road - named after the family - in Pylesville. She and her siblings were split up and sent to live with relatives after their mother died in childbirth and their father fell on hard times during the Depression, said a daughter, Helen Kahoe Kurtz of Bel Air.

Classmates at Fairview Elementary School in Pylesville called her "Sparrow" because she was "like a little bird," her daughter said.

She lived with an uncle and aunt while attending Highland High School in Street and helped to care for their children, whom she remained close to throughout her life. After graduating, she packed a suitcase, kissed the family goodbye and took a train to Baltimore to attend nursing school at Mercy Hospital, Mrs. Kurtz said.

As a nursing student, she was introduced to Stephen Michael Kahoe Jr. at the American Restaurant in Bel Air. On their first date, as she stood by the door to the nurse's quarters, he asked her to marry him. She laughed, but they were married six months later, Mrs. Kurtz said.

The couple's first five children were born when they lived in College Park, where Mr. Kahoe studied agriculture at the University of Maryland. In 1950, a week before their sixth child was born, the family moved to a 75-acre farm in Street.

Mrs. Kahoe prepared her family a hot meal each morning - scrapple, eggs fried in bacon fat or pancakes - and toasted two loaves of bread, Mrs. Kurtz recalled.

After the children left for school, Mrs. Kahoe strained milk from the family's cows, tended her garden of asparagus, shoe-peg corn and bright zinnias, and did the laundry.

"Her retreat during the day was to go outside and hang clothes on the line," Mrs. Kurtz said. "She would always say, 'Shake the towels or they'll get hard.' She was just the most organized person that I've ever known in my life."

Mrs. Kahoe amused her children by tap-dancing to radio music in the kitchen and creating playhouses from autumn leaves, her daughter recalled.

In 1982, after the youngest child had graduated from high school, the Kahoes sold the farmhouse and moved to an apartment.

In the early 1990s, after Catholic Charities established a shelter in the house, Mrs. Jones told Mrs. Kahoe that she would like to name the shelter after her. At the time, it housed 16 women and children, as it had once been home to the Kahoes' 16 children. The house was later demolished.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church in Hickory at 11 a.m. today.

Mrs. Kahoe is also survived by seven other daughters: Mary Ann Campbell of Bel Air, Jane Dare Mullins of Edgewood, Elizabeth Kahoe Martinez of Fort Myers, Fla., Katherine Kahoe Cooper of Bel Air, Rita Kahoe Charney of Phoenix, Bonnie Kahoe O'Shaughnessy of Jarrettsville and Joan Kahoe Haggerty of Bel Air; seven sons: Stephen Michael Kahoe III of Vineland, N.J., John Walter Kahoe of Hedgesville, W.Va., Joseph Jenkins Kahoe of Colorado Springs, Colo., Thomas Edward Kahoe of Port Deposit, James Francis Kahoe of Millsboro, Del., Daniel Paul Kahoe of Georgetown, Del., and Larry Ignatius Kahoe of Street; a sister, Doris Jenkins Wenderoth of Westminster; 42 grandchildren; and 18 great-grandchildren. A son, Patrick Charles Kahoe, died in 1985.

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