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Agnes F. Reisenweber, Baltimore native and super-centenarian, dies at age 111

Agnes F. Reisenweber, Baltimore native and super-centenarian, dies at age 111
Agnes F. Reisenweber, a super-centenarian whose family believed was the state's oldest living person, died April 14 at age 111 from complications from a fall. (Handout)

Agnes F. Reisenweber, a super-centenarian and resident of the Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville, died April 14 at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson from complications from a fall.

She was 111.

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Terry Strow, a granddaughter who lives in Medina, Ohio, said family members believed she "was the oldest living person... in Maryland."

Agnes Frances Richardson was born Oct. 29, 1906, in Baltimore and raised in Roland Park. She was the daughter of Robert Francis Richardson, a B&O Railroad brakeman, and Sadie Hubschmann, a German immigrant and homemaker.

When she was three months old, her father fell off a moving train into the Patapsco River and died. Her mother later married John Nunnally, a Cross Street Market stall keeper.

"She was born into a world that we can't imagine now," her granddaughter said. "She talked about horse and buggies and racing streetcars. Even though she would talk about the past, she wasn't stuck there, and even had her own cell phone. She loved technology."

She attended Eastern High School.

In 1927, she married Capt. William Richard Ernest, a Chesapeake Bay pilot, and settled into the life of a homemaker while raising the couple's two children.

She enjoyed traveling and was an accomplished painter who worked in watercolors and oils. She was known for her landscape, portrait and still-life works.

She was a "club woman," her granddaughter said, active in the Three Arts Club of Homeland, the Delphian Society, the English Speaking Union and the Opera Guild.

Her husband died in 1968, and four years later she married Henry Reisenweber, who had been a Baltimore Sun commercial artist, in a ceremony at First English Lutheran Church in Guilford. He died in 1992.

Mrs. Reisenweber lived for years at the Carlyle Apartments on West University Parkway before moving to Charlestown in 1995. She moved into assisted living when she was 104.

Ms. Strow said her grandmother followed no particular regimen that helped her achieve super-centenarian status. Mrs. Reisenweber was a "moderate drinker," she said, and "always ate vegetables and loved raw oysters and crab cakes."

"Years ago, she was a social smoker at cocktail parties. My husband and I were laughing because she said she 'did not inhale,'" Ms. Strow said with a laugh. "It's kind of like Bill Clinton saying, 'I did not have sex with that woman.'"

She came from a family that saw other members live long lives. "Her mother lived until her late 90s," he granddaughter said, "and a sister lived to be a 101-and-a-half."

Mrs. Reisenweber remained intellectually engaged and continued to read until the end of her life.

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"One of her favorite authors was John Grisham," her granddaughter said. "She also was interested in other people, and remained involved with them."

She eschewed traditional trappings that often come with advancing years, such as canes, walkers and wheelchairs.

"We were celebrating her 101st birthday at Fleming's Steakhouse in Baltimore and I told her I had her cane," Ms. Strow recalled. "She said, 'I'm not walking into Fleming's using the cane,' and she didn't."

It wasn't until she turned 104 that she agreed to use a walker. When she turned 111, she again walked into her party.

"Her mind was clear until the very end of her life, and she still had that incredible memory," her granddaughter said.

Mrs. Reisenweber was a Lutheran throughout her life.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel at Charlestown, 711 Maiden Choice Lane, Catonsville.

In addition to her granddaughter, she is survived by her son, Capt. William Richard Ernest, a retired Chesapeake Bay pilot who lives in Towson; a daughter, Nancy Ann Ernest-Zelek of Williamsburg, Va.; seven other grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren; and 19 great-great grandchildren.

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