Lillian "Libby" Charles, whose creative side inspired her progeny to pursue careers in the arts and entertainment, died of heart failure Friday at Aventura Hospital in Florida - not far from where she lived for the past 20 years. She was 85.
Born Lillian Matz in Baltimore, she was a 1940 graduate of Patterson Park High School. She was married in the 1940s to Aaron Charles, who died when Mrs. Charles was 35.
After her husband's death, Mrs. Charles began a lengthy career at the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn.
She didn't get a chance to go to college until late in life, returning to the classroom in her 70s to take film classes at a community college in Florida.
"In her generation, women didn't go to college. She always wanted to," said her son Allan Charles, founding partner of Trahan Burden Charles Advertising & Public Relations. "She always said if times had been different, she would have loved to have been an actress.
"We all looked to her as our creative inspiration," he said. "She mothered a lot of creativity."
Mrs. Charles appeared in a few of her son's commercials over the years. Her other son, Stan Charles, known as "Stan the Fan" as host of the Sports Talk Show PressBox Live on WJFK-AM, had his mother on his show for a segment called "Beat My Mom," where she would compete with listeners in picking the outcome of sporting events.
One grandson, Jeff Charles, an administrator in the Baltimore County public schools, is also a musician. Another grandson is actor Josh Charles, who has appeared in numerous movies, including Dead Poets Society, and the television series Sports Night and In Treatment, currently airing on HBO.
"She had the most incredible sense of humor," Josh Charles said. "Her timing was impeccable. She never missed a beat."
Services will be held at 9 a.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road in Pikesville.
In addition to her sons and grandsons, she is survived by three brothers, Herbert Matz and Wilbur Matz, both of Pikesville, and Jacob Matz of Owings Mills; three sisters, Esther Matz, Paula "Peggy" Matz and Rose Ginsburg, all of Pikesville; and a great-granddaughter.