Betty J. "BJ" Lewenz, a former art teacher, photographer, poet and naturalist, died May 23 of heart failure at Union Memorial Hospital. The longtime Ruxton resident was 91.
The daughter of Ralph Curtis Deatrick and Amy Carol Henderson Deatrick, Betty Jane Deatrick was born and raised in Gettysburg, Pa.
Starting in her midteens, Mrs. Lewenz, who was known throughout her life as "BJ," worked as a copy editor, illustrator and photographer for the Gettysburg Times. A highlight of her career, family members said, was photographing the last reunion of Union and Confederate soldiers, who gathered in Gettysburg in 1938 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the battle.
After graduating in 1940 from high school, she worked in Harrisburg for the Pennsylvania Department of Highways, and later with the Army Air Force's college training program in Gettysburg. She later moved to New York City and then Plainfield, N.J., where she worked for several businesses, including Ciba, a Swiss pharmaceutical company.
In 1947, she married Hans W. Lewenz, an engineer. They moved to Baltimore in 1954 when her husband was appointed plant manager of Ruberoid Corp.'s East Baltimore plant. They later settled at "Rolandell," their Ruxton home. Mr. Lewenz died in 1987.
During the 1950s and late 1960s, Mrs. Lewenz taught art at the old Blue Bird School in Ruxton, and later at Bryn Mawr School. A sculptor who worked in soapstone, marble and wood, she studied with Baltimore artists Amalie Rothschild and Frieda Sohn.
She and her husband were founders of the Ruxton Discussion Group, which was a monthly dinner-forum where prominent speakers would lecture on a variety of topics. She enjoyed skiing and kayaking with her husband, who was a founder and first president of the Baltimore Kayak Club.
For years, she spent summers at Jamestown, R.I., and later at Assateague Island National Seashore, where she liked to camp and helped organize a dune restoration project during the 1970s.
She was an avid gardener, photographer and bird watcher.
"She also loved writing poetry, listening to music and reading," said her daughter, Lisa Lewenz, a Baltimore filmmaker. "Nature was her church."
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Carrollton and Boyce avenues, Ruxton.
In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Lewenz is survived by two sons, Hans Curtis Lewenz of Cantil, Calif., and Claude Lewenz of Waiheke, New Zealand; and a granddaughter.
An earlier version of this obituary gave the incorrect name for Mrs. Lewenz's son. The Sun regrets the error.