Marjean Kae Davis Funn, a Baltimore County educator who devoted her career to children and young adults with special needs, died of cancer Tuesday at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson. The North Baltimore resident was 53.
A native of Baltimore, Mrs. Funn's interest in special education was sparked when, at 16, she worked with special-needs children at a summer camp at the old Rosewood State Hospital, family members said.
She graduated from Northwestern High School in the late 1960s and earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Loyola College in the mid-1970s.
She started her teaching career in Baltimore City and taught in Baltimore County several years later.
"Mom was very giving to the children she worked with, but she was also a good mother for me and my brother," said her son Kyle Funn of Bowie.
He said his mother supported her sons' efforts as jazz musicians. Kyle Funn plays trumpet, and his brother, Kristopher Funn of Baltimore, plays bass.
"She traveled out to Oakland [Calif.] to see him play, and she came down to D.C. to watch me play, not leaving until midnight and having to go to work that morning after her drive home. Her support meant a lot to us," Mr. Funn said.
Her brother, Dr. Marvin P. Davis of Ellicott City, said his sister "was a pioneer in working with autistic children. She started teaching in Baltimore City and transferred to Baltimore County, where she taught autistic children and later became a facilitator and supervisor.
"She started the program in Baltimore County from the ground up. She was very proud of that," Dr. Davis said. "And she was well respected, speaking at national conferences on the subject."
Her ex-husband, Charles O. Funn of East Baltimore, said Mrs. Funn was a "passionate advocate in schools where she worked. She allowed parents of students to call her at home. She was tireless."
Mr. Funn assisted his ex-wife during her illness "because we remained friends after our divorce in 1989," he said.
Mrs. Funn retired in 2003, when she learned she had cancer, her brother said. She was involved in public education for nearly 30 years.
A memorial service was held Saturday at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church.
In addition to her sons and brother, survivors include numerous nephews, nieces, aunts and cousins.