Helen R. Normile, educator and artist, dies

Helen R. Normile, a retired Towson University art history teacher who was also a working artist, died of cancer March 11 at Stella Maris Hospice.

The Towson resident was 77.


The daughter of Milford Redel, a salesman, and Helen Mueller Redel, a Towson University administrator, Helen Virginia Redel was born in Baltimore and raised on Renwick Avenue in Hamilton.

She was a 1956 graduate of the Institute of Notre Dame and studied art and fashion at Maryland Institute College of Art, from which she obtained a bachelor's degree.

Ms. Normile moved to New York City and worked as a fashion designer and pattern maker. After spending several years studying in Germany, she returned an earned a master's degree at Towson State College, now Towson University.

In 1969, she joined the faculty at Towson, teaching art culture and art history courses.

"She introduced thousands of students to the visual arts using a unique teaching philosophy based on the premise that students would be inspired to learn by seeing original works of art in museum collections, and by seeing architectural styles while visiting actual buildings," her cousin, Jeanette Opalensky of Severna Park, wrote in an email.

Ms. Normile expanded the university's Semester in Italy program, based in Florence, to include not only art and museums, but aspects of Italian culture including restaurants, trattorias and other locations.

She retired in 1999.

As a working artist, she enjoyed painting watercolors inspired by Venice and Florence.

She designed the stained-glass windows that were installed at the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Roman Catholic Church in Timonium.

Ms. Normile also illustrated "A Handbook of Costume Drawing," a collaboration with Georgia O'Daniel Baker that was published in 1992.

Her cousin recalled that she was "an avid follower of politics, and loved to travel and take cruises."

Her husband of 13 years, Richard J. Normile Jr., a professional golfer, died last year.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 12:15 p.m. Monday at Stella Maris, 2300 Dulaney Valley Road, Timonium.

In addition to her cousin, she is survived by a son, Anthony Alexander Pullen of Baltimore; and other cousins, nephews and nieces.


— Frederick N. Rasmussen