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Rita M. Baranoski, former secretary who worked at Bethlehem Steel during World War II, dies

Rita M. Baranoski, former secretary who worked at Bethlehem Steel during World War II, dies
Rita M. Baranoski was a lifelong Canton resident who had worked at Bethlehem Steel during World War II. (Handout)

Rita Mary Baranoski, a retired secretary and Canton resident, died Sept. 5 from pneumonia at Jacobs Well Assisted Living in Bel Air. She was 95.

She was born and raised in Canton, the daughter of Frank Baranoski, a Bethlehem Steel Co. shipyard pipefitter, and Matilda Baranoski, a homemaker and cannery worker.

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Miss Baranoski had resided 93 years in a South Lakewood Avenue rowhouse whose brickwork had been done by a cousin. She lived the past two years at the Bel Air assisted-living facility.

She was a graduate of local parochial schools and at age 16 went to work as a nurse’s assistant at what was then the University of Maryland Hospital.

“She worked seven days a week and was paid $10 for cleaning bedpans and bathing children,” said a nephew, Joseph Baranoski of Churchville.

During World War II, she worked as a secretary at Bethlehem Steel. Then, from 1955 until retiring in 1985, she was a secretary at Wyeth Laboratories Inc. in Baltimore.

Her nephew said that she was gifted with a marvelous memory and could recall the names and addresses of 45 people in her eighth-grade class photo. She also remembered the first time she saw two automobiles parked on her street, and the cost of ice from the ice man — “a nickel or 10 cents for a block,” he said. He said she also recalled the Pennsylvania Railroad train that chugged down her street, and having to use an outhouse behind her home when growing up.

Mr. Baranoski said his aunt’s memory was a “special gift,” and added that “if she met someone once and they told her their name and birthday, she would never forget the person or their birthday.”

She lived in the family home with her sister, Veronica Baranoski, and both enjoyed traveling together across the country. Her sister died in 2011.

Miss Baranoski had been an active communicant of St. Casimir’s Roman Catholic Church, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Sept. 15.

In addition to Mr. Baranoski, she is survived by 10 other nephews and four nieces.

— Frederick N. Rasmussen

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