Sophie Glukenhous never let much stand in her way, according to her friends and relatives.
Even when her husband of 40 years, Isadore (Reds) Glukenhous, died five years ago, the outgoing woman kept running errands for sick friends in her Silver Spring apartment building, and attending late night meetings at the Masonic Lodge where she and her husband had been longstanding members. At 85, she planned to visit Alaska in October.
But while returning home from a lodge-related meeting late Monday night, she and a friend were accosted by two men in the building's parking lot, according to Montgomery County police. As Glukenhous got out of her car, the men tried to steal her purse and she resisted, police said. While screaming for help, Glukenhous was stabbed several times.
She was taken to Holy Cross Hospital, where she was pronounced dead a short time later.
Her friend, whom police declined to identify, had been seated in the back of the car and managed to flee and alert a desk clerk in the lobby of the Blair House, at 8201 16th St.
Police reported no arrests.
The stabbing unsettled and frightened residents in the building, many of whom, like Glukenhous, have lived at the Blair House since it was built about 25 years ago. Before the slaying, several residents said, they felt secure, although they had heard rumors of prowlers lurking in the parking lot after dark.
The relationships among the tenants are old and strong. They play cards, celebrate holidays together, sit chatting in the lobby, and know each other's children and grandchildren by name. Several said yesterday that seeing Glukenhous padding through the carpeted hallways of the building was a sign that everything was all right.
"If you needed help, she was right there, always a lady," said her close friend, Blanche Cohen, 83, who lives across the hall. "She was like a fine jewel. I started screaming when I heard about it this morning."
Adele Marguiles, resident manager for the building, said that she had heard of no other incidents of violence at the apartment house, and that security measures are adequate. Visitors must use a security code to enter the building, and a guard in a marked car cruises through the parking lot 24 hours a day, she said.
"We do the best we can within human ability to protect our tenants and property," Marguiles said.
Yesterday, tenants waiting for mail paused in the lobby to talk about losing a neighbor and a friend.
"She was very elegant, a very classy woman," said Roy Greenfield, 70. He recalled telling Glukenhous jokes in French, although he said she didn't really understand the punchlines.
Glukenhous was born in New York City, according to her family, and was the oldest daughter in a family of 10 children. She worked for the State Department for 25 years as a financial officer before retiring in 1966 with her husband, who ran a haberdashery near the Washington Navy Yard.
She had outlived most of her younger siblings, but had an assortment of grandnieces and nephews who settled in the area and remained close to her. They said Glukenhous was the center of the family.
"This is a big sturdy family, and Aunt Sophie kept it going," said her nephew Doug Kaplan.
"She never let her age interfere with her life," said Donald Kaplan, a nephew. "She was very independent, and when she was ready to do something, she didn't care what anybody said."