Madeline L. Healey, a homemaker who was an executive secretary to two Maryland first ladies, died of an intestinal blockage April 5 at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. The former Annapolis resident lived in Cockeysville and was 92.
The daughter of Alva and Nannie Duvall, she was born in Baltimore and raised on Poplar Grove Street in Walbrook. A 1939 graduate of Forest Park High School, she met her husband, William H. Healey Jr., when both were teens living in the same neighborhood.
Her son, Ron Healey of Timonium, said she watched Mr. Healey play the saxophone on the Hippodrome stage as a part of the Kiddie Club radio show orchestra. They married in 1943 at Walbrook Methodist Church.
Mrs. Healey became a medical secretary at the old Marine Hospital near the Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus and was later an executive secretary to the Baltimore Salvation Army's director.
Before returning to work in the mid-1960s, she raised her five children in Annapolis, where her husband was a Naval Academy Band musician.
"In the 1950s, dad's Navy salary was $52 a week," said her son. "Yet we thought we were rich, materially and spiritually. … At Christmas, our house looked like a toy store. In the summer, we went to Ocean City or Rehoboth."
Her son said that if there was no money to go out for pizza, she made her own for the family.
He also recalled a summer night in 1959. "My dad broke several ribs playing softball at the Naval Academy, I suffered a concussion playing baseball at Germantown, and my brother broke his leg playing Little League in Edgewater," he said. "There was Mom at the Naval Academy Hospital emergency room, watching in disbelief as each successive family member arrived by ambulance. She was darting back and forth among cubicles to comfort her husband and two sons."
When her husband retired from the academy in 1966, she worked alongside him when he began selling real estate for the old Charles H. Steffey organization. He initially sold homes and later went into commercial land sales. The couple worked out of their home in Heritage Harbor.
"She kept his appointments, remembered names for him, had all the phone numbers for clients off the top of her head, and would constantly remind Dad what was on tap for the day," her son said. "My dad never dialed 411. My father always called my mother to ask what he should be doing that day. She had the organizational skills that complemented his earnestness. She had a great memory for names and numbers and was an excellent typist and shorthand taker."
Mrs. Healey resumed her secretarial work at this time. She applied for a job and worked briefly as secretary to state Sen. Meyer M. Emanuel Jr., who represented Prince George's County.
"She knew when to be discreet and be a good confidante," her son said. "She also knew how to take charge when a task was given to her."
Her son said she soon became a secretary to first lady Judy Agnew, wife of Gov. Spiro T. Agnew, and later to Barbara Oberfeld "Bootsie" Mandel, the wife of Gov. Marvin Mandel.
"She had the ability to get something accomplished," her son said. "She'd be told to put on a lunch at the mansion. She'd arrange the state police security, make up a guest list, plan the menu with the kitchen staff and send the invitations."
Her son said she "always smiled and had a twinkle in her eye."
Mrs. Healey left the governor's mansion after the Mandels divorced. She then became involved full time in her husband's real estate business.
"They were a match made in heaven," her son said. "She was highly organized and intelligent and could take charge of anything."
Mrs. Healey was a former president of the Ladies of the Annapolis Elks Lodge No. 622 and was secretary-treasurer to the Naval Academy Band Alumni, president of the Boumi Temple Band Aides and an officer in the Naval Academy Band Wives Club.
Services were private.
In addition to her son, survivors include two other sons, William H. Healey III of Havre de Grace and Dennis Healey of Tampa, Fla.; two daughters, Donna Healey of New Orleans and Cheryl Healey of Timonium; seven grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 2006.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun