Helen S. Heisler

The Baltimore Sun

Helen S. Heisler, a longtime volunteer and Guilford resident, died of colon cancer Thursday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. She was 92.

Helen Surratt was born in Baltimore and raised in the city's Woodberry neighborhood. After graduating from Seton High School in 1933, she worked in a number of administrative jobs, including assistant treasurer for a decade at the Hertz rental car office in downtown Baltimore.

From 1947 to 1951, Mrs. Heisler was an aide to Gov. William Preston Lane Jr. in his Baltimore office. She once described the job as "dispensing patronage," family members said.

In 1945, she married Philip S. Heisler, a reporter and World War II correspondent, who was managing editor of The Evening Sun from 1948 until his retirement in 1979. Mr. Heisler died in 1988.

For years, Mrs. Heisler was area chairman of the Heart Fund. She delivered food in the Govans area for Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland for more than 30 years.

More recently, she was active in the Care food program at her church, St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church in Govans.

Mrs. Heisler was the great-great-granddaughter of Mary Surratt, a Prince George's County tavern owner who was executed after a military commission convicted her of conspiring with John Wilkes Booth to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln.

She was the great-granddaughter of John Harrison Surratt Jr., an alleged co-conspirator who fled to Canada after the assassination and was arrested in Egypt in 1866. His civil trial ended in a hung jury, and he was never retried.

Mrs. Heisler was a founding member of the Surratt Society, which operates the Surratt House Museum in Clinton.

She had been an active member of the Woman's Club of Roland Park, the Maryland Historical Society and the Fort Smallwood chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Mrs. Heisler, who enjoyed gardening, was a member of the Little Garden Club of Baltimore.

She shared her husband's love of thoroughbred horse racing and breeding, and she was also active in Unstable, his small stable, which had horses co-owned by Sunpapers newsroom cronies.

A memorial Mass will be offered at noon tomorrow at her church, 5500 York Road.

Survivors include a nephew, Gregory J. Kirchner of Baltimore; and a niece, Mary Frances Kirchner of Washington.


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