Ayesha Howar Abraham, 93, owner since 1960 of the Calvert Cafe, a small restaurant on the eastern end of the Duke Ellington Bridge that was once described as the "closest thing to Casablanca in town," died of congestive heart failure June 2 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Known to her patrons as "Mama Ayesha," Mrs. Abraham served Middle Eastern food and advice to a variety of Washingtonians, including Henry Kissinger, journalist Helen Thomas, students, young professionals and society figures.
The Calvert, a popular serviceman's restaurant during World War II, had been closed for more than 10 years when Mrs. Abraham reopened it.
In her heyday, she held court from a seat in the rear of the Calvert Cafe, a telephone at hand, busily rolling grape leaves or stuffing eggplant. At times she would take a turn on an Arabic drum, accompanying belly dancers who were an attraction in the restaurant's Mount Olive Room. For special customers, Mrs. Abraham would read fortunes in the grounds of the cafe's thick Turkish coffee.
Mrs. Abraham was born in Palestine and lived on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. As a young woman, she operated cattle farms and produce fields that supplied food for a large section of Jordan.
After the creation of Israel, her family's property was confiscated and she came to the United States in 1949. She settled in Washington, where she had relatives. She found work as a cook at the Syrian Embassy and later was a housekeeper and restaurant chef.
Her initial success with the Calvert Cafe was as a gathering place for the area's Arab community. She could neither read nor write Arabic or English, but maintained that knowing how to sign her name on a check was enough. "I know all about Arab food," she said.
Mrs. Abraham became a naturalized citizen in 1968, a milestone that was thereafter celebrated nearly every year with a gala party. She never retired from the business, and since the early 1980s also had operated a 200-acre farm in Leesburg that supplied the restaurant.
Her marriage in Palestine to Joseph Abu Howar ended in divorce. Her second husband, Issa Abraham, predeceased her.
Survivors include a sister, Miriam Abdalouq of Arlington.
GEORGE L. JENKINS
D.C. Official, Howard Professor
George L. Jenkins, 66, a retired Army officer, D.C. government official and Howard University professor of public administration, died of cancer June 2 at his home in Bethesda.
Dr. Jenkins was born in Greenville, N.C. During World War II, he went into the Army. He served in the Quartermaster Corps until 1965, when he retired with the rank of major. In the course of his career, he was stationed at various posts in the United States and in Japan, Korea, France and Germany.
He settled in Washington when he left the service, completed his education at Howard and began a career with the D.C. government. Starting as a contracting officer in 1967, he rose to be director of supply and services in the Department of Human Resources and assistant director for executive management in the mayor's office.
In 1978, he received the Distinguished Public Service Award from Mayor Walter E. Washington.
In 1980, Dr. Jenkins retired from the D.C. government and joined the Howard faculty. He taught until 1984, when he retired.
Dr. Jenkins was active in Republican Party affairs and was an at-large member of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee and a former chairman of the Montgomery County Black Republican Council. He also was a past president of the Carderock Springs Citizens Association and a stamp collector.
His marriage to Eliza Jenkins ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife, Harriett G. Jenkins of Bethesda; two children from his first marriage, Laura Kelley and Etta Jenkins, both of Philadelphia; his mother, Bertha Jenkins of Silver Spring; three brothers, Dan Jenkins of Washington, Emmanuel Jenkins of Syosset, N.Y., and Robert Jenkins of Silver Spring; a sister, Alice Jenkins of Southfield, Mich.; and a grandchild.
STEPHEN MICHAEL STOCKER
Artist and Designer
Stephen Michael Stocker, 26, an artist and designer and a Silver Spring native, died June 1 at Hollywood Community Hospital in Burbank, Calif. He had AIDS.
Mr. Stocker graduated from Wheaton High School and attended Montgomery College. He moved to California in 1985.
There he had been a self-employed artist and a designer for SEED Imagineering. He worked on wire sculptures, floats for the Rose Bowl Parade and movie props.
For the last two years, he had been a member of Alcoholics Anonymous in Los Angeles, and in that capacity had helped design sets for theatrical productions put on by the group.
Survivors include his parents, Jean and Christian Stocker, a brother, Timothy Paul Stocker, and a sister, Michelle Lynn Stocker, all of Silver Spring; and a grandmother, Jean Stocker of Martinsburg, W.Va.
MARY E. GREINER
Mary E. Greiner, 80, a member of the parish of St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church, where she was active in the Women of St. James, died of a circulatory disorder May 31 at Arlington Hospital.
A resident of Arlington, Mrs. Greiner was born in Hampton, N.J. She grew up in Sugar Notch, Pa., and she graduated from Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Business College.
She moved to the Washington area in 1940 and worked for about two years as a secretary at the Civil Service Commission, the forerunner of the Office of Personnel Management.
Mrs. Greiner was a member of the National Genealogical Society, and she was a former Cub Scout and Girl Scout leader.
Her husband of 48 years, Joseph J. Greiner, died in 1989.
Survivors include three children, Joseph J. Greiner Jr. of Tallahassee, Fla., Mary D. Sturwold of Covington, Ohio, and Thomas M. Greiner of Falls Church; five sisters, Elinor Kearns of Ottawa, Canada, Margaret Solomon of Phillipsburg, N.J., Rose Meade of Mountain Top, Pa., Alice Holmes of Sugar Notch, and Ruth Wilverding of Cranford, N.J.; four brothers, Michael Ginley of Orlando, Fla., Daniel Ginley of Roslyn, Pa., John Ginley of Sugar Notch and Eugene Ginley of Ashley, Pa.; and four grandchildren.
FRANCIS L. COSTANTINO
Francis L. Costantino, 74, a retired shop superintendent at the Navy's David W. Taylor Ship Research and Development Center in Carderock, died of congestive heart failure May 31 at his home in Chillum.
A native of Berwyn, Mr. Costantino grew up in Washington. He graduated from McKinley Technical High School. During World War II, he served in the Navy aboard a destroyer escort in the Atlantic and the Pacific.
After the war, he worked briefly for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing before joining the David W. Taylor facility as an apprentice machinist. He rose to be superintendent of the shop, and he retired in 1980.
He received the Navy's Meritorious Civilian Service Award.
Mr. Costantino was a member of the Roma Lodge of the Order of the Sons of Italy, American Legion Post No. 217 and the parish of St. John Baptist De La Salle Catholic Church in Chillum.
Survivors include his wife of 52 years, June Costantino of Chillum; two children, Francis L. Costantino Jr. of Chesapeake Beach, Md., and Sharon Shaffer of York Springs, Pa.; three sisters, Tina Meli of Richmond and Theresa Malczynski and Margaret Sharer, both of Bowie; a brother, Orlando Costantino of Olney; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
MARGARET SMITH WILLIAMS
Margaret Smith Williams, 84, a former resident of Chevy Chase who had done volunteer work with Bethesda Presbyterian Church and the Montgomery County Thrift Shop, died of heart ailments May 30 at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C.
Mrs. Williams was born in Raleigh, N.C. She graduated in 1929 from what was the Women's College of North Carolina at Greensboro.
In 1949, she moved to the Washington area, and in 1992, she moved to Chapel Hill, N.C.
Her husband, Durwood R. Williams, died in 1960.
Survivors include two sons, Dr. D. Robert Williams of Chapel Hill and Donald M. Williams of Piscataway, N.J.; and five grandchildren.