Anne J. McCloskey, a retired Loyola University Maryland athletic coach and administrator who also co-founded a grassroots crime victims’ rights group, died of pancreatic cancer Saturday at her Towson home. She was 87.
Born in Baltimore, she was the daughter of Victor J. Furst Sr., who headed a printing firm that specialized in scholarly publications, and his wife, Mary R. McAuliffe.
Raised in the 3300 block of Guilford Avenue, she recalled to family members that she could hear newborn babies cry at the nearby Union Memorial Hospital’s maternity ward, which faced her home.
She attended the Baltimore Academy of the Visitation and was a 1947 graduate of Mount St. Agnes High School.
She received a bachelor of arts degree in speech and drama at what is now Notre Dame University of Maryland and a master’s degree in education at what is now Loyola University Maryland. She also studied at the Johns Hopkins University and Towson University.
In 1961 she joined the faculty at Maryvale Preparatory School, becoming chair of its physical education department. She also coached its varsity and junior varsity basketball, lacrosse and hockey teams. In addition, she ran a girls’ sports summer camp from 1962 until 2007.
In 1976 she was named assistant director of athletics at Loyola University Maryland. She coached women’s lacrosse, basketball and hockey. She retired in 1994 as Loyola’s director of recreation and ran intramural programs, among other duties.
“She was incredibly strong in character and in her convictions,” said Teddi Burns, Loyola’s associate athletic director. “She was a woman of her word and fought hard for women’s teams to see they were treated fairly by the athletic department. She did not back down from a challenge. She always did things the right way.”
Mrs. McCloskey was an advocate for women’s sports. In a 1977 article in The Baltimore Sun, she said: “People always say women’s sports aren’t as exciting, they’re not as skilled. Compared to what? … It’s just like music. When you listen to a female singer you don’t ridicule her because she doesn’t sing baritone. Why discredit her ability to sing soprano?”
Mrs. McCloskey assumed another role, as an advocate for crime victims, after the homicide of her brother, Victor J. Furst Jr., who was attacked as he rode a moped on an errand to buy crabs. The Sun reported that he was killed on Dogwood Road in Woodlawn by teenagers who were attempting to rob him.
A month after the killing, Mrs. McCloskey and her sister-in-law, Rita Marie Corbett Furst, the victim’s wife, organized Citizens United for Justice.
The two women attracted attention — together with other crime victims and their families — and merged their efforts into the Maryland Coalition Against Crime. Mrs. McCloskey was the group’s co-chair.
The group erected billboards that criticized the Maryland Court of Appeals’ record on overturning death sentence convictions.
A 1992 Sun article said their crusade — and Mr. Furst’s death — helped spark the creation of a Maryland victims rights movement. The Maryland General Assembly later passed laws that required family members be advised about the parole status of convicted criminals.
Her efforts were also credited with creating a place in the criminal sentencing process for a victim impact statement to be recorded.
A 1982 Sun article described Mrs. McCloskey’s work as “a lobby born of frustration and loss: frustration of people who say they are weary of being frightened by crime and the loss revealed in the personal tales of those whose lives have been battered and brutalized by crime.”
“We decided we had to do something and we had to do it through new laws and stronger laws,” she said in the article.
Mrs. McCloskey was named to the Governor’s Commission on the Death Penalty. She also received a 1994 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Service to the Community.
She also served several years on the Governor’ s Task Force on Victims of Crime, and in 1987 received a JC Penney Golden Rule Award for outstanding volunteer service.
A resident of the Hampton section of Towson, Mrs. McCloskey was a longtime volunteer and tour leader at the Ridgely Mansion, the Hampton historic site. In 2014 she received the Margaretta S. Ridgely Award as outstanding volunteer at Hampton.
She was present at the 2016 ceremonies when her son, Robert F. “Bobby” McCloskey, was honored at the Mount Washington Whole Foods store after his death. He was developmentally disabled, and had worked at the grocery store at its entrance, greeting customers and arranging carts.
Mrs. McCloskey was inducted into the athletic halls of fame at Baltimore Chapter US Lacrosse, Maryvale Preparatory School and Loyola and Notre Dame universities.
A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Ware Avenue in Towson, where she was a member.
Survivors include a son, E. Lawrence McCloskey of Winter Garden, Fla.; and a daughter, Patricia McCloskey of Rodgers Forge. Her husband of 17 years, Edward L. McCloskey, a Westinghouse manager, died in 1967.