Gladys C. Spare

Gladys C. Spare, a retired antiques dealer and artist who was a self-proclaimed Francophile, died June 22 at the Glen Meadows retirement community in Glen Arm of complications from a fall she had suffered two weeks earlier.

She was 94.


The daughter of a carpenter and a dressmaker, Gladys Catherine Woods was born and raised in Trenton, N.J.

After graduating in 1936 from Hamilton High School, she attended an art school in New Jersey, and later at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She also studied with R. McGill Mackall, the Maryland muralist and Dickeyville resident, who died in 1982.


Ms. Spare came to Maryland in 1960 and settled in Dickeyville, and moved in 1973 to the Village of Cross Keys, where she lived in Harper House.

She had worked as an administrative assistant at Carling Brewing Co. and entered the antiques business in 1973 when she established Gladys Spare Antiques, which specialized in early 20th-century decorative art and French furniture.

"She did shows such as the pier shows in New York City, Rehoboth Beach, and other shows throughout the Middle Atlantic region," said a daughter, Katherine M. "Kathi" Carpenter of Lutherville.

"Gladys had a wonderful sense of design, color and fashion. This was reflected in her selection of antiques, especially French antiques," said Pete Clark, who owns Pete's Pickins Antiques in Upper Falls, Baltimore County, and a friend for more than 30 years.

"I always called her my 'Renaissance lady' because she was so good at it. She kept up with music, art and design. She was a neat lady with a great sense of humor," said Ms. Clark.

"She liked everything that was French — art, lamps, furniture and porcelain — and had a good eye for it. She really had that ability, and we did lots of shows together," said Ms. Clark, who has been an antiques dealer for 53 years.

Ms. Spare's other daughter, Barbara Rew, who lives in Towson, has in recent years operated the business, which has been renamed Barbara Rew Antiques.

Ms. Spare was still driving at 90, and Ms. Carpenter said she was driving her car the day she suffered a stroke in 2009 that left her with aphasia.


For the last four years, she attended the Snyder Treatment Center for Life Enhancement, a North Baltimore community treatment center for stroke survivors afflicted with aphasia.

"Although Gladys' ability to speak clearly was compromised, she was an active participant in the community and enjoyed sharing her expertise in photography and art with fellow members," said Denise McCall, who is the center's program director.

"Aphasia is a language disorder that is caused by a stroke that affects that part of the brain that controls the expression of language. They know what they want to say but retrieve the wrong words, even though their intellect is intact," said Ms. McCall.

"Gladys was a most interesting and very astute lady who learned to express her ideas through art and photography. This helped keep her involved in life and not socially isolated," she said.

Ms. McCall said that Ms. Spare had copied a Matisse portrait one day and then cut out the mouth of the person.

"It was her way of addressing her problem," said Ms. McCall.


Ms. Spare had been a lifelong reader of The New York Times, which was read to her daily after the stroke, said Ms. McCall.

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"Such support and supportive technology gave Gladys access to the world," she said. "Her thoughts and opinions were still there. She was the same curious and sophisticated woman she had always been.

"Gladys touched the lives of many students and peers at the center and will be greatly missed."

A granddaughter, Lauren Carpenter of San Francisco, called Ms. Spare "fiercely independent and a lifelong student of literature. She credited 'The Education of Henry Adams' as the source of inspiration to strike out and establish her own business. Virginia Woolf and other members of the Bloomsbury [Group] were favorites, as was Lawrence Durrell."

In addition to traveling throughout France, Ms. Spare had visited the Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Austria, Germany, England, Ireland, Scotland and Guatemala.

Services are private.


In addition to her two daughters and granddaughter, Ms. Spare is survived by a grandson; a brother, Fred Woods Jr. of Melbourne, Fla.; and a sister, Shirley Visdas of Sebastian, Fla. Her marriage to Earl L. Spare ended in divorce.