Anna Mae Burke Small, a Westinghouse purchasing and materials control clerk who changed careers and became a successful dog groomer, died May 9 from complications of a fall she suffered three years ago at Oakcrest, a retirement community in Parkville. The former Parkville resident was 81.
Born in Baltimore and raised on East Chase Street, she was the daughter of Patrick Burke, a Baltimore City worker, and Delia Scully Burke, a Waverly Press employee. Both her parents were born in Ireland and met in Baltimore.
She attended the old St. John the Evangelist School and was a graduate of St. James the Less School in East Baltimore.
“Her love of helping people may have started as a girl, when she volunteered at the Little Sisters of the Poor home in the old Irish 10th ward,” Glenn Small Jr., a former Evening Sun reporter and her son, said referring to the neighborhood near Green Mount Cemetery, now called Johnston Square.
“In later years, my mom loved finding treasures at yard sales and flea markets, always with an eye for surprising some friend or family member with a gift,” he said.
“Anna would do anything for you. She would give you the shirt off of her back,” Kathleen Wilson, one of her sisters, said. “She was a wonderful sister and a great mother.”
She married Glenn M. Small Sr. in 1963. They settled in Overlea and soon moved to Garnet Road in Parkville.
Mrs. Small worked at manufacturer Bendix Corporation in the 1960s and later was a bookkeeper at car dealership Town and Country Datsun and the Hillendale Country Club. She later joined Westinghouse Electric Corporation in Hunt Valley as a clerk from 1979 to 1991.
She was also a temporary worker at Black & Decker and St. Joseph Medical Center.
When her military contract ended at Westinghouse, she decided to change careers.
“She always loved dogs and and we owned three — a poodle, two bichon frisés. She went to school for six months in Silver Spring and obtained a Maryland license to groom dogs, which she did out of her home in Parkville.
“My mother was plain-spoken and had a great sense of humor,” Glenn Small Jr. said. “She also had a good way with dogs.”
In 1987, Mrs. Small and her husband flew to Ireland and reconnected with her mother’s side of the family.
“My mom’s parents came to Baltimore separately from Ireland, didn’t know each other in Ireland but met and married in 1933,” her son said. “My grandparents had seven surviving children. Over time they lost touch with family members back in Ireland. My mom’s mother, Delia Scully, died in 1970 and a niece of hers wrote a letter of condolence to us. The letter was signed Mary Scully from Kilrush, Ireland.”
“In 1987 my parents planned a trip to Ireland and called the international telephone operator, and asked for a phone listing for Mary Scully in Kilrush. No phone listing,” her son said. “They then asked if there was a listing for any Scullys in Kilrush — no listings.
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“They flew into Shannon Airport, rented a car and drove to Kilrush anyway. As they entered the village, they saw an old woman walking along and they stopped the car to ask her help.
“‘We’re looking for a Mary Scully,’ they said.
“She was startled. ‘My name is Mary Scully.’
“They showed her the letter. ‘I wrote that letter!’ she said. ‘God it’s a miracle.’”
Her son said his parents encountered numerous Scullys in Kilrush and on subsequent trips.
Mrs. Small is survived by her husband, Glenn M. Small Sr., a retired master plumber and General Motors employee; a son, Glenn M. Small Jr. of Reston, Virginia; two sisters, Mary Hohenberger and Kathleen Wilson, both of Oakcrest; and two grandchildren. A daughter, Bridget Small, died in 1985.
A Funeral Mass was held May 19 at the Oakcrest Village chapel.