Marie C. Vrany, a retired secretary who once foiled a pickpocket while on vacation in London, died Sunday of complications from a stroke at Carroll Hospital Center. She was 90.
The daughter of a Patapsco & Back River Neck railroader and a homemaker, Marie Caroline Schissler was born in Keansburg, N.J.
The eldest of five children who were orphaned by the time she was 11, Mrs. Vrany was raised by extended family members who had adjoining farms in Middle River.
She was a graduate of St. Elizabeth's Commercial School, where she won awards for typing and stenography.
During World War II, she worked at Eastern Stainless Steel Co. and the old Glenn L. Martin Co. plant in Middle River.
In 1944, she married Charles J. Vrany Jr.; they moved to Dundalk in 1950. Her husband, who was a lieutenant with the Baltimore County Fire Department, died in 1984.
In the late 1950s, after raising her children, Mrs. Vrany returned to secretarial work at Crown Cork and Seal, Crosse & Blackwell and later in the general offices of Mars Supermarkets, where she was an executive secretary for more than a decade.
She retired in 1970.
When she was 50, Mrs. Vrany earned her General Educational Development certificate and studied at both Essex and Dundalk community colleges, where she enjoyed taking art classes.
A needleworker and quilter, she exhibited her work in state, national and international competitions.
She was a member of the Embroiders Guild of America and the Essex Homemakers.
Mrs. Vrany was a world traveler.
"She was always ready to hit the road and go anywhere," said her daughter, Mary Lee Vrany of Dundalk.
In 1979, while waiting for a tube train at London's Piccadilly Circus station, several men got between Mrs. Vrany and her husband, effectively blocking her husband's entrance to the subway car.
"Here I was about to set foot on a train to God knows where and be separated from my husband. I got mad and grabbed the man's arm and said, 'What are you doing? Let him on!' " she told The Baltimore Sun in a 1980 interview.
Unfortunately for the pickpockets, two detectives, one of whom had been on the London police force's "dip" or pickpocket squad, intervened. They captured the man who stood between the Vranys, while two others fled.
The Vranys were asked if they would return to London to testify against the man and they agreed to, with the government paying all the couple's expenses.
The pickpocket was found guilty and given a suspended sentence by the judge because he had just completed a nine-month sentence for auto theft and his common-law wife was pregnant.
Mrs. Vrany had been an Orioles season ticket holder for years, her daughter said.
She was a congregant of Our Lady of Hope Roman Catholic Church, where she participated in Bible study classes and was a Eucharistic minister, visiting the homes of shut-ins.
A funeral Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday at her church, 1727 Lynch Road, Dundalk.
Mrs. Vrany is also survived by a son, Charles Vrany of Hampstead; three sisters, Susie Sapp and Rita Kern, both of Dundalk, and Leona Bartholomey of Manassas, Va.; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times