By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun
6:11 PM EDT, March 27, 2014
Richard P. Healy, an environmental engineer whose career with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spanned more than three decades, died Saturday of esophageal cancer at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center.
The longtime Hamilton resident was 61.
"Rich was a wonderful guy and a team leader for our beach team. He has been in that position since 2002, which oversees grants to coastal Great Lakes states, which helps them with beach monitoring and advising about contamination such as sewage," said John B. Wathen, who is the assistant chief of the EPA's Fish, Shellfish, Beaches and Outreach Branch.
"The program is spread across 35 states and three territories. The grants are used to access water quality, which results in green- or red-flag days," said Mr. Wathen. "He worked with all of those states and territories. It is a national program ... and Rich was very successful in becoming a team leader."
The son of Lewis Healy, an engineer, and Dorothy Healy, a secretary, Richard Philip Healy was born in Baltimore and raised in Cub Hill.
After graduating in 1970 from Perry Hall High School, he earned a bachelor's degree in applied mathematics and biology in 1974 from what is now McDaniel College.
He earned a master's degree in civil engineering and a doctorate in environmental engineering in 1979 from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Dr. Healy spent his entire 34-year career with the Environmental Protection Agency at its headquarters in Washington, where he started working in fish contamination studies in 1980.
"The final project he worked on was the Beach Project that funded states with money to keep their beaches clean," said a daughter, Charlotte L. Healy of Washington.
Dr. Healy worked on programs, policies and regulations.
"Rich would lead those calls and was widely recognized throughout EPA as well as with the states and our local partners," said Mr. Wathen. "Even though he was working from home in recent weeks, he continued to be productive and he'd be included in conference calls, which were always followed by a flurry of emails going back and forth."
"My dad fought an unbelievable battle with cancer during the last 10 months," Ms. Healy said. "Sadly, his condition declined this month. He required more rest time but was still able to spend great quality moments with us.
"In fact, the four of us celebrated my big sister Rose's birthday at Woodberry Kitchen last Thursday. The next day, he was admitted to the hospital, and he died Saturday morning," she said.
In 2010, Ms. Healy and her sister, Rose J. Healy, of Hamilton, decided to enter their father in Fox 45's Baltimore's Best Dad competition.
When one of his daughters returned home from their fourth-grade trip to Williamsburg, Va., she accidentally threw away her disposable camera's film roll in the trash, and was upset and crying that she would be unable to share her pictures with her family.
Dr. Healy spent the next four hours rummaging through trash bins until he found the film.
"This perfectly portrays my dad's incredible kind nature. He stops at nothing to see my family happy — and even searches trash cans," the sisters wrote in their submission. "He definitely deserves recognition as Baltimore's Best Dad."
"He won the competition by a landslide," said Charlotte Healy.
The prize included four free Southwest Airline tickets to anywhere in the U.S., which they used to travel to San Francisco to celebrate Rose Healy's graduation from Dickinson College in 2010.
Last year, Dr. Healy attended the Boston Marathon to cheer on his daughter, Charlotte. (They were not near the finish line when the bombs exploded.)
"He was always very supportive of my running from the very beginning," she said. "I will be running the Boston Marathon in less than a month, this time in honor of my dad."
Dr. Healy and his wife of 27 years, the former Marilyn Bennett, a doctor and neonatologist at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, enjoyed collecting antiques and stained glass, which they used to illuminate and decorate their Hamilton home.
"But his real hobby was his family and seeing them happy," said Charlotte Healy. "He drew his energy from his family."
His daughter said a special spot for Dr. Healy was the Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens in Druid Hill Park, where funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday. The conservatory is at 3100 Swann Drive.
"While there have been memorial services held there, this is the first funeral to be held there with a casket since it opened in 1888," Charlotte Healy said.
In addition to his wife and two daughters, Mr. Healy is survived by two brothers, David Healy of Parkville and Jerry Healy of Clayton, Del.; a sister, Peggy Buckless of Perry Hall; and many nieces and nephews.
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