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Beth Tenser, graphic artist and women's health advocate, dies

Beth Tenser, a graphic artist and women’s health advocate, died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, on Nov. 16 at her Pikesville home. She was 50.

Born in Baltimore, she was the daughter of David Tenser, who owned a shoe business, and his wife, Myrna Pruzon, a bookkeeper at the Wolf Cohn women’s apparel shop.

Raised in the Colonial Village section of Pikesville, she was a 1986 graduate of Pikesville High School, where she played lacrosse and softball.

She obtained a bachelor’s degree at Elmira College and received a master’s degree in graphic design from Adelphi University, both in New York. She was an active Adelphi alumna and created a scholarship fund. Over the years she assisted students with their tuition bills.

She lived in New York City for several years and worked for a book and paper conservator. She used her training in graphic design to clean and restore vintage but damaged comic books. Among her projects, Ms. Tenser restored the 1938 Action Comics book in which the Superman character first appears.

Following her work as a restoration artist, she moved back to Baltimore and took a position as a designer for the beer distributor, Bond Distributing Co., where she worked for 14 years. She headed its in-house graphic design department.

She designed beer and liquor-related advertisements that were displayed at both Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadiums, as well as Pimlico Race Course.

She told her friends that she had found an ideal job because it combined her enthusiasm for sports and creative design.

A photographer, Ms. Tenser took action shots of ballplayers on the fields.

“She loved local teams and sent her best photographs to the players,” said her father, David Tenser of Pikesville. “She was a people person and had a spirit — she wanted to leave the world a better place.”

Ms. Tenser enjoyed singing and had a good voice. She sang in the Pikesville Alumni Choir, and was invited to sing the National Anthem at Oriole Park.

For seven years she was a volunteer in New York City for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and walked the parade route in costume.

After being diagnosed with ALS in 2010, Ms. Tenser increased her charitable work. She set up a 2014 Mercy Medical Center fundraising event, BRAnanza, to support survivors of breast cancer. She was its founder and honorary chair.

A Gilchrist Hospice publication profiling her work noted: “Beth founded an art exhibition and fundraising event in which designers turn ordinary bras into works of art that are auctioned off to raise money for women’s health — a cause that became close to her heart after two of her friends were diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite the progression of ALS, which has left her unable to move most of her body, she often stays up late into the night, asking celebrities and others for fundraising support via social media.”

“It’s my purpose to give back,” Ms. Tenser said in the Gilchrist article.

The organizers of the fundraiser designed a Wonder Woman-themed work of art.

“Beth loves Wonder Woman and we think she is a ‘wonder woman’ herself,” said Gilchrist Hospice music therapist Emily Mahoney in the publication.

“She provided an inspiration to those of us who worked with her on the committee,” said Carmel Gambacorta, director of special events for Mercy. “She gave the spark that created the event at the Mercy Women’s Health Center. I had tremendous admiration for her.”

She was a member of Beth El Congregation.

Services were held Nov. 18 at Sol Levinson and Brothers.

Rabbi Steve Schwartz of Beth El Congregation said in his eulogy: “Beth never stopped living, even when the challenges were beyond daunting. She had a zest, a spirit and an energy all her own. She was a creative force to be reckoned with. In the time she had, she lived as fully as anyone possible could.”

In addition to her father, survivors also include a brother, Barry Tenser of Owings Mills; and nieces and nephews.

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