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Helen A. Witt, former assistant to director of social work at Sheppard Pratt, dies

Helen Witt's interests included art, music and interior design.
Helen Witt's interests included art, music and interior design.

Helen A. Witt, former assistant to the director of social work at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, who enjoyed art, music and interior design, died Aug. 23 at College Manor Assisted Living in Lutherville. The former longtime resident of Phoenix, Baltimore County, was 91.

The former Helen Alexis Estremsky, daughter of Stanley Estremsky, an electrical engineer, and his wife, Mary Estremsky, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised on Ponca Street in East Baltimore.

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A 1947 graduate of Patterson Park High School, Ms. Witt studied painting and drawing at the Maryland Institute College of Art and later took courses in anthropology and psychology at the Johns Hopkins University.

Miss Witt began working at Sheppard Pratt in 1968 as a medical records coordinator until being named assistant to the hospital’s director of social work and coordinator of field placement for as many as 24 interns at a time, family members said.

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Other duties included serving as co-editor of its Social Work Newsletter and coordinating numerous special events such as designing graduation certificates and special-event brochures and as the interior designer of the social work department’s nursing and administrative offices.

Ms. Witt retired in 1992 but kept busy as an active member, secretary and vice president of the Baltimore chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha, an international professional women’s philanthropic society. She also indulged her passion for art, music and interior design.

Since 2018, she had been a resident of College Manor.

“She was diagnosed with COVID-19 at College Manor maybe a month or two before she passed away,” said a son, James Eric Eich of Vancouver, Canada. “Because of travel restrictions, I last visited her in November, but we kept in contact through Zoom.”

Another son, Arthur N. Eich Jr. of Ellicott City, said his mother had been diagnosed as “asymptomatic.”

The last time he was physically able to visit his mother was in February.

“Because she had dementia, she had no idea why she was quarantined, but having dementia only made it even harder,” said Arthur Eich, whose wife, Joanna, is a retired Good Samaritan Hospital registered nurse.

“I got a call from the director of nursing at College Manor who told me she had died,” Mrs. Eich said.

Her husband described his mother as being a person who enjoyed solitude.

“Helen was warm, attentive and hospitable," James E. Eich wrote in a biographical profile of his mother. "She lived a full life and will be missed.”

Services were private.

In addition to her two sons, Ms. Witt is survived by two grandchildren. Marriages to Arthur N. Eich Sr. and Dr. John Witt ended in divorce.

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