Lois Zanow, historical guide and co-author of Baltimore places of worship book, dies – Baltimore Sun
Lois Zanow, a guide who takes tourists to historic Baltimore destinations and co-authored a book about Baltimore’s iconic places of worship, died of an infection Thursday at Gilchrist Hospice Care. She was 89 and lived in the Cromwell Bridge section of Towson.
Born in the Northern Plains region in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, she was the daughter of Dave Miller, a farmer, and Myrtle Ruble Miller, a housewife.
In her memoir, “A Plains Memoir,” she wrote, “During the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, rural South Dakota had no electricity, plumbing, or phone service…I didn’t know the hardships my parents endured. It helped that the people around us were no better off than us and probably in more difficult circumstances.
During her first six years in elementary school, she was the only student in her class in a one-room school. The rest of her high school and high school education was spent at a consolidated rural school, where she delivered her senior class’s farewell speech.
She received a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Minnesota. She did her university studies as a secretary at the school.
She met her future husband, Markus Zanow, a history and English student, at school. They married in 1960.
They moved to the University of Wisconsin at Madison where she was a program officer for seven years in the Department of Indian Languages and Area Studies.
She moved to the Chicago area when her husband took a job there. There she wrote a column for a local newspaper and organized tours of Chicago.
“His tours have always had a cultural and historical focus,” said his son, Yuri Zanow.
She served as president of the local branch of the American Association of University Women and became chair of the Clarendon Hills Library Board. She also served as president of the Family Service League and secretary of the DuPage Community College Caucus.
She also volunteered at her children’s school.
She moved to Towson with her family in 1983. She worked at the now closed Baltimore City Life Museums and later served as executive director of the Maryland Association of History Museums.
“She found giving tours personally rewarding. In the 1980s, there weren’t many opportunities for a middle-aged woman,” her son said. “She found a lot of interesting things here. She was impressed by Thurgood Marshall, Harriet Tubman and HL Mencken.
She has worked for Rohrbaugh Bus and Smart Tours.
As a tour guide, she has covered Baltimore, Washington, Annapolis, and Philadelphia, among others. For 12 years she led tours for a band from Chicago to venues from New England to New Orleans.
With co-author Sally Johnston, she wrote “Monuments to Heaven: Baltimore’s Historic Houses of Worship”, illustrated by photographer Denny Lynch. She and Mrs. Johnston gave many lectures based on the book.
“They know their churches and have an eye for decoration and beauty,” said a 2011 Baltimore Sun article about their book. “This is a guide to bejeweled stained glass, intricate patterns and painted surfaces, angels, saints and, yes, sinners ready to make resolutions.”
Sally Johnston, her co-author, said: “She was really fearless in exploring new places and taking people there. She was a good storyteller and had a great sense of humor. And as a tour guide, leading a group of people, she could handle difficult situations with great aplomb.
Ms. Johnston said Ms. Zanow believed churches and synagogues were the centers of neighborhood life.
“She brought that awareness from her time in Chicago and applied it to Baltimore,” Ms. Johnston said.
Her son said: “My mother was very thorough. When not touring, she worked at Carroll Mansion, Flag House and HL Mencken House.
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Before she died, she planned to update the “Monuments to Heaven” with additional places of worship and write another book about interior spaces in Baltimore, such as the Peabody Library.
Mrs. Zanow and a friend, Betty Keller, formed a book club in 1984 which was still meeting at the time of her death.
She was a past president of the American Association of University Women and belonged to the Green Acres Garden Club, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Three Arts Club.
She read stories and literature. She made trips to New York, New Orleans and Savannah, Georgia, as well as Europe. She also liked to visit historic cemeteries.
“As her body gave in, she kept going,” her son said.
A celebration of life will be held from 3-5 p.m. on November 5 at Peaceful Alternatives 2325 York Road.
Survivors include her husband of 62 years, Marcus Zanow, a retired Rock Island and CSX Railroad executive; one daughter, Paula Bartholomew of Timonium; one son, Yuri Zanow of Brooklyn, New York; and a granddaughter.