Anna R. "Ann" Gorman, a retired Baltimore County public schools physical education instructor and department chair, died Wednesday from complications of dementia at Brookdale Towson, an assisted living facility.
The longtime Manchester resident was 81.
"Ann was a fascinating person and made cookies to die for," said Brad Foster, a media specialist at Church Lane Elementary School in Randallstown, who had been on the faculty with Ms. Gorman for 20 years at Pikesville Middle School.
"She didn't put up with anything from the students or her friends. You stayed in line when you were with Ann," Mr. Foster said with a laugh. "She really was quite a character and a dedicated teacher."
The daughter of P. Evans Gorman Sr., an antiques dealer, and Elizabeth Grauel Gorman, a homemaker, Anna Richwien Gorman was born in Baltimore and raised in Roland Park.
She spent summers growing up on the Worthington Valley farm that was owned by her grandparents, Harry and Anna Grauel, who owned and operated the old Graul's Market on Roland Avenue and at Rehoboth Beach, Del.
"They dropped the 'E' in Graul's when they named the market," a said a niece, Peg Crockett of Rodgers Forge, who said her aunt worked in the grocery store.
Ms. Gorman also attended Camp Whipporwill as a camper and later became a counselor at the Pasadena Girl Scout camp.
A 1953 graduate of Western High School, she attended what is now Towson University for a year before enrolling at what was then Western Maryland College — now McDaniel College — where she obtained a bachelor's degree in education in 1958.
Her neice said Ms. Gorman never could call the school "McDaniel."
At college, Ms. Gorman played field hockey and softball, and later played in sports leagues. She also was an avid duckpin bowler and taught PeeWee bowling.
"She used to say that duckpin bowling was the 'only kind of bowling,'" Ms. Crockett said.
Ms. Gorman began her career as a physical education instructor at what was then Dumbarton Junior High School in Rodgers Forge in 1958. She was later on the faculty at Deer Park and Sudbrook Park and Pikesville middle school, which opened in 1968. She became department chair, and held that position for many years.
"Ann had been here since the day Pikesville Middle opened," Mr. Foster said. "She had really good physical education programs for the kids and brought a gymnastic program to the school."
In fact, she organized gymnastic competitions to show off her students' work.
Ms. Gorman had a reputation for putting in long days.
"She was so dedicated that they gave her a key to the school because she'd come in at 6 a.m. and no one else wanted to," Mr. Foster said. "Sometimes, she'd stay beyond 6 p.m. She had old school dedication."
In addition to her work at Pikesville, she was a Baltimore County referee and umpire for girls' sports.
She was a champion of Title IX, the federal law enacted in 1975 that mandated equal school sports opportunities for both boys and girls.
Ms. Gorman was an "outspoken advocate for Title IX," wrote a niece, Anne Paton of Portland, Ore., in a profile of her aunt. "Some say Ann was ahead of her time with her involvement with it. She was passionate about equality for women in sports."
She retired from Pikesville Middle in 2005.
Ms. Gorman enjoyed going to Baltimore Colts games at the old Memorial Stadium with her father and family, who were season tickets holders.
She was a University of Maryland basketball fan, and also an avid fan of the Orioles and Ravens.
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She was well known among family, friends and fellow teachers and school staffers for her homemade Christmas cookies, hard candy and jars of strawberry jam and orange marmalade.
"Her cooking was to die for," Mr. Foster said.
Ms. Gorman was also a fan of bingo, jigsaw puzzles and crossword puzzles — she was proud of doing them in ink.
"Ann was always upbeat and happy, stubborn and a fighter," Ms. Paton wrote. "She loved jokes and usually had a smile on her face."
Graveside services will be held at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at Parkwood Cemetery, 3310 Taylor Ave., Parkville.
In addition to her two nieces, she is survived by a brother, Paul Evans Gorman Jr. of Berlin in Worcester County; two sisters, Gail Breyer of Roland Park and Elizabeth G. Gorman of San Antonio; and many other nieces and nephews.