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Catherine R. Counselman, Baltimore homemaker who visited six continents, dies at 99

Catherine R. Counselman, Baltimore homemaker who visited six continents, dies at 99
Catherine R. Counselman drove a car until April and won a recent putting tournament at her retirement community. (HANDOUT)

Catherine Roloson Counselman, a Baltimore homemaker who raised four children, traveled to six continents, hit two holes-in-one and embroidered the cushion for the cardinal’s chair at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, died Wednesday of complications from pneumonia at Blakehurst Senior Living Community in Towson, her family said.

Mrs. Counselman, who drove a car until April and won a recent putting tournament at her retirement community, was less than two months shy of her 100th birthday.

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“The most important thing to Mom was her family,” said Cathy Kelly, a daughter who lives in Sewickley, Pa. “She and my father kept track of everybody and what they were doing."

Catherine Louise Roloson was born in Baltimore on Sept. 7, 1919, the only child of F. Albert Roloson, a partner at the insurance brokerage Riggs, Warfield, Roloson, and the former Ida Stonesifer, who worked with him at the firm, which would become one of the largest independent broker firms in the Mid-Atlantic.

She was raised on Drury Lane in Ten Hills, on the city’s west side, and graduated from Mount de Sales Academy in Catonsville in a class of only seven in 1937.

Mrs. Counselman graduated from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland (now Notre Dame of Maryland University) with a bachelor’s degree in economics and sociology in 1941. Three months later, she married Charles Claude Counselman Jr., another Ten Hills resident, who had grown up on Augusta Avenue and attended Mount Saint Joseph High School and the Johns Hopkins University.

“They knew each other from the neighborhood,” said a son, Albert R. “Skip" Counselman of Cockeysville.

Within a year of the wedding, the Counselmans were on the move.

Mr. Counselman, who first worked for Baltimore Gas & Electric and later climbed the ranks to president of his father-in-law’s insurance firm, served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Army Air Corps, opening training bases for pilots from 1942 to 1945, during World War II.

Mrs. Counselman, who had the couple’s first son, Charles III, in Baltimore in 1943, followed her husband to stations in Washington, Boca Raton, Fla., and Denver.

After the end of the war, the family returned to Baltimore, where they bought a house on North Calvert Street near 28th Street. They moved in 1948 to a home on Hawthorn Road in Roland Park, where they lived for more than a decade before moving to Guilford in 1960.

The Counselmans, devout Roman Catholics, began attending weekly Mass at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen when it opened in 1959 and were longtime active members. In addition to doing the needlepoint embroidery for the cardinal’s chair, Mrs. Counselman would invite visiting associate priests to dinner; “it seemed like every week, but it must’ve been every other week,” Albert Counselman said.

The couple took their first trip to Europe in 1964, and traveled extensively thereafter, including a three-month cruise around the globe in 1985, after Mr. Counselman’s retirement. Their vacations also took them to Asia, Europe, South America and — Mrs. Counselman’s favorite — the African safari.

In retirement, the Counselmans spent the winters at a villa in Naples, Fla., where they would golf and play tennis. Mrs. Counselman, who took up golf in her 40s, had pictures on the wall to commemorate her two holes-in-one, which she hit at the Rehoboth Country Club in Delaware and the Royal Poinciana Golf Club in Naples.

The couple moved permanently to Blakehurst in 2006, and Mr. Counselman died after nearly 75 years of marriage in 2016.

On the ship back from a 1964 trip to Europe, the Counselmans met the Sangregorios, a couple from Milan, Italy, who were headed to the U.S. for the first time. Fast friends, the two couples kept in touch over the years, visiting one another and talking on the phone each Christmas.

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The Sangregorios’ son, Antonio, sent condolences to Mrs. Kelly after her mother’s death and said he was impressed to have received an email from Mrs. Counselman earlier this month, she said.

“Rest assured,” she said he told her, "our families will remain close.”

In addition to her son and daughter, Mrs. Counselman is survived by a son, Charles C. Counselman III of Belmont, Mass.; a daughter, Susan C. Healy of Richmond, Va.; 12 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

A visitation is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday at Ruck Funeral Home, 1050 York Road in Towson. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St., followed by interment at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, 200 E. Padonia Road.

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