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Eileen M. O'Hagan, advocate

She co-founded the Maryland Society for Cleft Lip and Palate Children

By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun

5:03 PM EDT, May 24, 2012

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Eileen M. O'Hagan, a homemaker and advocate for children with cleft lips and cleft palates, died of cancer May 18 at her Cockeysville home. She was 73.

Born Eileen Gayo in Baltimore and raised on Eierman Avenue, she attended the Shrine of the Little Flower School and was a 1956 Catholic High School graduate. She was active in the schools' alumnae groups.

She worked briefly for Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. before her marriage to John P. O'Hagan, a civil engineer she met in 1957 at a square dance at the downtown YWCA.

After the birth of a daughter with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, she co-founded the Maryland Society for Cleft Lip and Palate Children. Family members said she visited mothers of these children in hospitals to comfort them and inform them of the nature of the birth defect, the remedies available and various feeding techniques.

"When it became apparent that many health plans excluded orthodontia for these children, the society had a bill introduced in the Maryland General Assembly," her husband said. "Fellow society members testified that orthodontia was not cosmetic but an essential medical requirement for these children."

The bill passed the General Assembly and became law in 1998.

She volunteered at Sarah's Hope near Rosedale and Our Sisters Place in downtown Baltimore. She was also active in Marriage Encounter and attended meetings for nearly 35 years.

Mrs. O'Hagan was a 24-year breast cancer survivor. She made pillows for breast cancer patients to ease the pressure on their surgical sites when they were discharged from Mercy Medical Center.

She enjoyed hiking in national parks and traveling in southern Germany and the Alps. She also enjoyed quilting.

Mrs. O'Hagan donated her body to the State Anatomy Board.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, 101 Church Lane in Cockeysville, where she assisted in religious training.

Survivors include her husband of 52 years; a son, John Michael O'Hagan of Downingtown, Pa.; two daughters, Mary Patricia Lowe of Westminster and Kathleen O. Adams of Hockessin, Del.; a sister, Caroline Louise Lembach of Fallston; and four granddaughters.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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