Naamah Kendrick, known as the "First Lady of Arbutus" because of the longtime community commitment of her husband, George, died Monday of lung and brain cancer. She was 83.
George Kendrick, known as the "unofficial mayor" of Arbutus, founded the Arbutus Big Red semipro football team and serves as treasurer of the Arbutus Recreation Council.
"He's done so much for the community," said Pete Kriscumas, legislative aide to 1st District Councilman Tom Quirk, who represents Arbutus, Catonsville and Lansdowne.
"But she did so much behind the scenes," Kriscumas said. "She was the rock that kept Mr. George straight."
The Kendricks celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last June.
"To me, as far as I'm concerned, she was the greatest there ever was," George Kendrick said of his wife.
They met 63 years ago on Valentine's Day at a dance, said Valerie Stocksdale, one of the couple's two daughters.
"My father was always in the spotlight, but my mother never was," Stocksdale said. "I don't think my mother knew how much of an impact she had on other people."
Naamah Kendrick was born in 1931 to parents Stanley Smith Sr. and Mary Smith in the Eastport neighborhood of Annapolis.
She enjoyed scrapbooking, sewing, ice skating and spending time with family.
"Family was of the utmost importance to her," said Stocksdale, who also has two brothers and a sister. "She was a cheerleader mom, a football mom — she went everywhere with us."
"She was kind, loving, caring, funny — I could go on forever — she was a classy woman," Stocksdale said.
Naamah worked in the cafeteria at Mount Saint Joseph High School, a Catholic all-boys high school in Baltimore City, for 10 years until October when she was diagnosed with cancer, Stocksdale said.
"They loved her and she loved them," said her granddaughter, Amy Magbulos, 35, of Relay.
Magbulos called her grandmother a "genuine, good soul."
Magbulos said she will miss her grandmother's crab soup, which she always made for their family after the annual Arbutus Fourth of July Parade.
"It takes so long and it's so hard to make. It was delicious," Magbulos said.
George Kendrick had organized the annual celebration that livens East Drive, the Main Street of downtown Arbutus, with red, white and blue each summer, with the help of his wife and family for the past 17 years.
Jeff Utzinger, who has helped the Kendrick family organize the parade, called her a "wonderful lady."
"She's going to be missed," Utzinger said.
A neighbor of the Kendrick family, T.J. Bauer, wrote in a Facebook post about Naamah Kendrick, "Even though I'm not your grandson by blood you always made me feel like I was. I never walked away from a conversation with you without a smile on my face."
"She was more than my grandmother. She was my best friend," said Magbulos, who recently graduated from the Community College of Baltimore County with a degree in nursing.
Magbulos said she couldn't have earned her degree without the support of her grandmother, who watched her two children while she went to school.
When Magbulos graduated she received a pin, which she said will be buried with her grandmother. "My pin is going with her, because that pin is symbolic," Magbulos said.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday in the auditorium of Mount St. Joe, 4403 Frederick Road, with internment following in the Loudon Park Cemetery.
The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in her name to Mount Saint Joseph High School.
In addition to her husband, daughter and granddaughter, she is survived by: daughter Pam and son-in-law Grant Schwartz; son Larry and daughter-in-law Barbara Kendrick; son Ross and daughter-in-law Terry Kendrick; son-in-law Richard Stocksdale; 10 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.