Erna Segal, a writer and former Maryland Shock Trauma Center public affairs specialist who chronicled the lives and work of the center's medical staff, died Tuesday of complications from
The daughter of furniture store owners, Erna Selznick was born and raised in
Mrs. Segal started her college studies at
After marrying, they settled in Tamaqua, Pa., where her husband established his optometric practice, and moved in 1950 to
Mrs. Segal, who had been studying commercial art before her marriage, began designing window displays for her husband's offices in Reisterstown Road Plaza and Eudowood Plaza.
While raising her family, Mrs. Segal studied art at what was then
"I was her youngest child, and when I went off to college, she did as well," said her daughter, Cheryl Segal of Gulfport, Fla. "She graduated a year earlier than I did because she had already earned some college credits."
In 1977, Mrs. Segal earned a degree in American studies from UMBC, and then went to work for the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, where she served in a variety of roles.
She created audiovisual presentations and displays, recruited volunteers, wrote news releases and photographed Scout activities for publications.
"In a brush with future greatness, my mother once recalled a gathering of inner-city Girl Scouts meeting with a local television personality —
"The girls, my mother said, crowded around Winfrey wanting her autograph, but she declined. Instead, my mother said, Winfrey hugged each one of them," said Ms. Segal.
Even though science was not her "strong suit," her daughter said, Mrs. Segal became a medical writer and technical editor in 1980 at what is now the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Mrs. Segal's first job was working as a technical editor and audiovisual specialist, where she conducted in-depth interviews with doctors on a wide range of subjects, including the new field of audiovisual education.
"For the continuing education course in presentative medicine, she edited hours of grand rounds, spending time with doctors extracting information from them, which she later included in a slide-tape presentation," her daughter said.
After the two-year grant that had brought Mrs. Segal to Hopkins ended, she joined the research and development office at the Perry Point Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 1983 as an editor writing technical and public relations materials.
A year later, she became a public affairs specialist at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where she interviewed doctors, paramedics and other medical professionals for articles about public safety and emergencies that were published in the center's newsletter.
She also coordinated, wrote and edited the center's annual reports until retiring in 1991.
Four years after she retired, she had to call 911 for assistance after her husband passed out.
"One of the emergency workers who responded looked at my mother and said, 'I know you. You interviewed me,'" her daughter said. "I don't think she realized how many people knew her because of her job."
After her husband's death in 1995, Mrs. Segal became an active member of the Covenant Guild Inc., a Pikesville philanthropic organization that raises money for many causes, including nursing homes and emergency aid for the needy.
Mrs. Segal edited a fundraising cookbook and coordinated the Walk of Love that raised funds for the
"What a sweet, wonderful woman. We worked together at the Covenant Guild, and she and I became good friends, even though there is a great difference in our ages," said Dale R. Levitz.
"The motto of the Covenant Guild is 'Loving, Caring, Giving and Sharing,' and Erna certainly embodied that," said Mrs. Levitz, who lives in Baltimore. "She was a very bright woman who was interested in everything. She was a tireless worker in all of our causes."
Mrs. Segal, who had moved to Largo in 2008, had been an active member of the Beth-El Couples Club.
She also had built and assembled a highly detailed Victorian dollhouse.
"She wired it with electricity for lighting and made its furniture. She even made detailed figures, including one that was sitting in a chair reading a miniature newspaper," said Ms. Segal.
A world traveler, she had visited Europe, Israel, Morocco and Mexico, her daughter said.
Her husband of three years, Max Winder, a Baltimore businessman, died in 2005.
Services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville.
In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Segal is survived by her son, Mitch Segal of Silver Spring; and two grandsons.