Patricia Owens, a former Red Cross public relations director who enjoyed making pottery and gardening, dies

A reader and letter writer, Patricia Owens often corresponded with authors of books she enjoyed.

Patricia Owens, a retired Red Cross public relations director who was an accomplished potter and gardener, died July 19 of complications from a fall. She was 93 and formerly lived on Guilford Avenue in Charles Village.

She fell several days before at her apartment at the Edenwald Retirement Community in Towson and died at Union Memorial Hospital.


Born in Baltimore and raised in Forest Park on Chatham Road, she was the daughter of Charles O’Brien, who worked in clothing manufacturing, and Dorothy “Dorry” Lyons, a homemaker.


She attended All Saints School and was a graduate of the old Mount Saint Agnes High School in Mount Washington. She earned a mathematics degree at what is now Notre Dame of Maryland University.

After completing her education, she joined a sister in West Germany and became a civilian employee of the Army. She taught arts and crafts to military personnel’s families at Army service clubs. She also traveled extensively in Europe.

She returned to Baltimore and lived in an apartment at Charles and Centre streets atop the Buttery lunch counter.

She saw a “help wanted” ad for the American Red Cross and joined the organization. She rose to become its public relations director.

She married Thomas Owens and lived in an 18th century Ellicott City home before their divorce.

She later moved to Guilford Avenue and renovated a rowhouse often featured in photographs for its brightly painted porches.

“Her home was as neat as a pin and was precisely curated,” said her nephew, Patrick O’Brien. “As a child, I would wonder at her collections, and she would tell me, ‘You may take one thing.’”

He recalled her hobby: making pottery.


“She was a member of the Potters Guild, and that’s how I recall her, not as a Red Cross marking person. She could speak on almost any topic and was well-informed. She was always the most interesting woman in the room,” he said.

Allison O’Brien, her niece by marriage, said: “It was Patricia’s personal presentation to wear her hair long in a Gibson Girl style. She had beautiful hair, and she made a classic appearance.”

A reader and letter writer, she often corresponded with authors of books she enjoyed. She also read newspapers and wrote letters to the editors.

In 2016, she asked readers on The Baltimore Sun’s opinion page, “Do I really want Donald Trump representing the United States to the whole world?” In other letters, she argued for marriage for Roman Catholic clergy and urged the Baltimore Museum of Art to acquire the George Lucas prints collection.

Ms. Owens transcribed a British sailor’s diary from when he visited Baltimore in 1902 and wrote: “There was deep snow on the ground, but no attempt had been made to clear the streets. ... There is not a street of any importance in Baltimore which has not its double line of electric railway. ... The trolley cars ... run at a good speed and they are driven without much regard for other street traffic. During my short stay in Baltimore I was twice on a car which ran into a tradesman’s cart.”

The impressions of Baltimore were published in The Sun.


“Her life was so full,” said a friend, Debra Rubino. “She had abilities. She would never call herself an artist, but I would. She was intellectually engaged and was a great conversationalist. She was incredibly outgoing and would go to the ACC craft show every year. She would invite craftspeople to her home for meals and eventually invited some to stay for the show. She was curious. She loved walking with friends and finding fossils.”

Ms. Rubino’s husband, Joe Rubino, who was another friend, said: “Patricia was truly a singular person with an astonishing amount of energy, enthusiasm and curiosity. She loved her garden, Charles Village, vanilla ice cream and very smart people.

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“There was almost nothing she wasn’t interested in — at lunch, right up until the last weeks of her life, she could speak about a book she had just finished on the code breakers in WWII or a PBS program she had seen on the origin of the universe. And when she did, her blue eyes would light up,” Mr. Rubino said.

She read literature and nonfiction and became involved with the Edenwald book club.

Friends and family recalled her well-tended gardens in the front and back of her home. She opened her shady spot to visitors on the annual Charles Village Garden Tour.


She had been an active volunteer at the Village Learning Place on St. Paul Street.

Survivors include a brother, Charles O’Brien of Charlottesville, Virginia, and a nephew, Patrick O’Brien of Baltimore.

Plans for an Oct. 1 life celebration are pending.