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Barbara Zentz, retired court reporter, dies

Barbara Zentz spent four decades working as a court reporter in Baltimore City criminal courts and Baltimore County civil courts.
Barbara Zentz spent four decades working as a court reporter in Baltimore City criminal courts and Baltimore County civil courts.

Barbara Zentz, who spent four decades working as a court reporter in Baltimore City criminal courts and Baltimore County civil courts, died Friday of complications from a brain tumor at her son‘s Brookeville home in Montgomery County. The former Mount Washington and Cross Keys resident was 82.

The former Barbara Weaver, daughter of Earl Weaver, a Green Spring Dairy milkman and carpenter, and his wife, Norma Weaver, a secretary, was born in Baltimore and raised on Oswego Avenue in Northwest Baltimore.

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She was a graduate of the old School 49 on Cathedral Street, otherwise known as Robert E. Lee Accelerate Junior High School. After graduating in 1954 from Western High School, Ms. Zentz earned a teaching degree in 1959 from what is now Towson University and taught science briefly at Catonsville Junior High School.

While raising her family, she attended night school at the University of Baltimore, where she earned a master’s degree in 1972 in psychology and a law degree in 1977.

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“She was a trailblazer in the 1960s, juggling a career and children when few women worked,” wrote her daughter, Wendy Zentz Kolak, of Pomona, New York, in a biographical profile of her mother.

“With her black stenograph, Ms. Zentz took down the words of crime victims, defendants and lawyers in the criminal courts of Baltimore City and later in the civil courts of Baltimore County,” Ms. Kolak wrote. “She had a long career chronicling the unhappy truths that filled the pages of her court transcripts.”

“She documented the sordid details of murders, robberies and messy divorces in Baltimore for four decades, and in addition to attending night school, she carved out time to teach her craft at Villa Julie College, now Stevenson University,” she wrote.

Ms. Kolak said her mother was in her 30s when she decided to go to law school “after watching and listening to one too many hapless lawyers bungle a case.”

After retiring in 2009, Ms. Zentz regularly attended lectures at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. A voracious reader, she went to the Enoch Pratt Free Library every week and returned home with a stack of books that she “devoured before they were due,” her daughter said.

She was also an avid iris gardener and enjoyed cooking.

Plans for a memorial gathering to be held this summer are incomplete.

In addition to her daughter, she is survived by a son, Mark Zentz of Brookeville; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Her marriage to Gerald “Jerry” Zentz ended in divorce.

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