Margaret Blandin Clark

The Baltimore Sun

Margaret Blandin Clark, a social worker and University of Maryland assistant professor, died Thursday of cancer at her Charles Village home. She was 56.

Born Margaret Blandin in Bethesda, she earned a bachelor's degree in sociology at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia and a master's degree in social work from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.

She moved to Baltimore in 1977 and worked for Associated Catholic Charities in its school mental health program until 1988. She also had a psychotherapy practice in Towson from 1980 until her death.

In 1988, she began work at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the family practice department and retired in April as an assistant clinical professor and director of behavioral medicine.

"Margaret was a kind, gentle, caring professional social worker," said Dr. Kevin Ferentz, a colleague at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

"She was a teacher of hundreds of medical students and residents, and she taught them how to care for patients with difficult psycho-social problems," he said. "She did it in a way that not only helped the patient but helped the doctors learn more about themselves."

While at Maryland, she taught medical students and family practice residents about doctor-patient communication.

Ms. Clark was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in May 2006.

In April, she participated in a silent retreat at the Jesuit-run Eastern Point Retreat House on the Massachusetts coast.

"I thought it would be interesting to see what happened if I could be quiet for eight days," she told a Sun reporter last month.

"After about three or four days, the constant chatter in my mind, either about things that have happened or things that might happen, or organization things, such as 'I forgot to pay that bill' -- all that kind of chatter that goes nowhere just went away, and things got really quiet," she said.

"I came home with the concept of 'hopeful experiences,' as opposed to 'being hopeful,' and always struggling with walking the line between being realistic ... and being hopeful," Ms. Clark said. "I have all kinds of hopeful experiences all the time, not just related to health."

She said the retreat lessened her tendency to pose pointless questions. "There aren't as many 'what-ifs,'" she said.

But the retreat experience did not erase all of her fears: "I still get discouraged and weepy. I still worry about what's ahead."

"She was a very spiritual woman who loved life and viewed her past year as a blessing," said F.J. "Skip" Clark Jr., her husband of 32 years. "She visited family and friends, and took advantage of all life had to offer in spite of her illness."

Graveside services will be held at 10 a.m. today at Saint Stephen Roman Catholic Church, 8030 Bradshaw Road in Kingsville.

In addition to her husband, survivors include a daughter, Alexis Blandin Clark of Baltimore; her mother, Ruth Leavitt Blandin of Annapolis; and four sisters, Mary Blandin Bauer of Silver Spring, Joan Howard of Omaha, Neb., Sarah Hamilton of Madison, Wis. and Emily Moseman of Brussels, Belgium.

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