Catharine J. Allan, volunteer, dies

Catharine J. Allan, a sportswoman and volunteer who worked to save the eastern bluebird, died Nov. 7 of a ruptured aneurysm at Sinai Hospital. The longtime Stevenson resident was 92.

Catharine Jackson, the daughter of a Mercantile Trust Co. vice president and an aviator, was born in Baltimore and raised in Stevenson.

Mrs. Allan was a 1936 graduate of the Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Va. An avid lifelong world traveler, she was in Nuremburg, Germany, and was an eyewitness to Adolf Hitler's 1938 party rally and parade, which she watched from her hotel balcony.

"She managed to escape from Paris in 1940, when the Germans marched in, and sailed to New York in a battered steamer," said her son, Gary "Gay" Black Jr., a former Baltimore Sun executive who is president and publisher of Ski Racing magazine, and lives in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Mrs. Allan was an accomplished horsewoman and fox hunter. In 1952, her hunter, Captain Black, finished second in the Maryland Hunt Cup timber race.

Concerned with the threat of the destruction of the eastern bluebirds' environment, Mrs. Allan took a correspondence course from Cornell School of Ornithology in 1978 and oversaw the installation of hundreds of bluebird houses throughout northern Baltimore County.

"Once rare, bluebirds are quite common in parts of Maryland today," her son said.

Mrs. Allan had volunteered for many years with the Johns Hopkins Hospital Carry-On Shop.

She had been a member of the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club and rode with the Green Spring Valley Hounds.

Her marriage to Gary Black Sr., who had been chairman of the A.S. Abell Co., former owners and publishers of The Baltimore Sun, ended in a 1956 divorce.

She was subsequently married to Dr. Nicholas L. Ballich, who died in 1995, and Dr. J. Hamilton Allan, who died in 2000.

Mrs. Allan was a communicant of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Garrison, where a memorial service was held Thursday.

In addition to her son, Mrs. Allan is survived by a daughter, Catharine B. Peterson of Wellington, Fla.; five grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

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