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Anna M. Brooks, career railroad stenographer, dies

Anna M. Brooks conducted an annual toy drive for needy children.
Anna M. Brooks conducted an annual toy drive for needy children. (Handout / HANDOUT)

Anna M. Brooks, a career railroad stenographer who was an active member of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, died Tuesday of an aneurysm at Franklin Square Medical Center. The longtime Essex resident was 89.

The former Anna Mae Tirschman, daughter of John A.E. Tirschman Sr., an American Standard Co. factory worker, and his wife, Margaret A. Shaw Tirschman, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised on Holabird Avenue.

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She was a 1949 graduate of Patterson High School and began working as a stenographer in 1957 for the old Pennsylvania Railroad at its Bayview Yard in East Baltimore, and worked for successor companies Penn Central Railroad and Conrail until retiring in 1993.

A well-known figure in Essex, Mrs. Brooks was president of the Penn Central Retired Employees Association No. 5 and the founder in 1981 of the Kenwood High School Booster Club. She headed the Athletic Boosters at Chesapeake High School for many years.

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She was an active member of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, where she established a clothing giveaway to help the needy, which was named Miss Ann’s Closet. It later expanded to include housewares, shoes and infant items.

After leaving the railroad, she started collecting used toys, which she cleaned and repaired and gave to needy families at an annual Christmas giveaway that she started in 1990.

An accomplished baker, Mrs. Brooks was most notably known for her Jewish apple cake and chocolate peanut butter cups, which she sold at bake sales throughout the year to raise money to support her toy drive.

Mrs. Brooks enjoyed gardening, spending time with her family and watching Hallmark movies.

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Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday at her church, 518 Franklin Ave., Essex. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, masks and social distancing will be observed.

She is survived by three sons, Thomas Brooks of Fallston, Barry Brooks of St. Petersburg, Florida, and Craig Brooks of Savannah, Georgia; two daughters, Robin Emrick of Essex and Kathleen Clark of Holly Lake Ranch, Texas; a brother, Walter R. Tirschman of Felton, Pennsylvania; a sister, Carol A. Goff of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia; 11 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and four great-great grandchildren. Her marriage ended in divorce.

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