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Eva Lowery, retail worker who managed church gift shop, dies

Eva Lowery, a retired neighborhood variety store manager who later managed a church religious goods shop, died of pneumonia Dec. 31 at St. Agnes Hospital. She was 89 and lived at the DePaul House on Caton Avenue.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Lombard Street, she was the daughter of Leslie Schwartz, a press operator at Winchester and Woods, and his wife, Ella. She attended St. Peter the Apostle School and was a graduate of St. Martin’s Academy.

She married William Lowery, who worked in maintenance at Westview Mall.

Mrs. Lowery joined the old G.C. Murphy stores, a neighborhood-based five-and-dime national chain. She became a floor manager and served at its branches on West Baltimore Street at Carrollton Avenue, in the Westside Shopping Center and on South Broadway in Fells Point. She retired in 2000.

“She was a generous woman and was accepting of people. She had a positive attitude. Eva was a quiet, private person, but she had a presence too,” said Mary Burke, a friend who formerly lived in Union Square. “I had known her since I was 15 and met her at my first job at Christmas, at the Murphy store, 50 years ago. I watched her interact with people — and the younger Eva was the older Eva. She was a special person, a lady who worked hard. She was feisty, and she always had her heart and soul in what she did.”

Mrs. Lowery had been an active member of St. Peter the Apostle Roman Catholic Church on Poppleton Street,

“She was a fixture in Southwest Baltimore,” said the Rev. Michael Roach, her former pastor. “She kept going and had incredible dedication. She was a demure lady, but when it came to business, she was sharp and tough. I watched her interact with salesmen, and she could not be conned into anything. I was proud to have her as a parishioner.”

After St. Peter the Apostle Church closed, she joined a neighboring parish, St. Benedict, also in Southwest Baltimore.

She became the manager of its religious goods gift store and also worked at church bazaars. She began as a volunteer and assumed the role of manager. She bought books, Nativity sets — she had 150 sets on on display for Christmas — religious icons, vestments and statues. Several times a year she packed up some of her inventory and had a booth at the Irish Festival and the Festival of Trees.

“Eva had a fascinating life story,” said her pastor, the Rev. Paschal Morlino, a Benedictine priest. “She was a caring and devoted person. You will never know how many folks she cared for over the years.”

He said he met her nearly 25 years ago when she was a caregiver to a young woman who had multiple health problems.

“Eva was living in the third-floor apartment and had to hobble up and down all those steps every day,” Father Morlino said. “She had suffered a birth injury that left her in pain. She never complained.”

After Mrs. Lowery moved to the DePaul House, she cared for a brother and sister who also resided there.

Friends said that her gift shop became well known for its wares, but also for the woman who ran it.

“The gift shop was like her child. She cared for it with love and devotion,” said Father Morlino.

““She was dedicated to the church and the job,” said a fellow parish member, Margaret Harris, a Catonsville resident. “I will always remember her as a person who did not ask anything for herself. She was unassuming. She never lost her training in sales, and it carried throughout her life. If you were her customer, she waited on you in the old-fashioned way — she was there to serve you. She was also an excellent organizer too. The parish loved her.”

A funeral Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church, 2612 Wilkens Avenue.

Survivors include a brother, Joseph R. Schwartz of Nottingham; and numerous nieces and nephews. Her husband of many years died in 1989.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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