Family, friends, colleagues remember slain Ellicott City priest

They remembered Mary-Marguerite Kohn's enthusiasm and service, even her style — one mourner recalled "a large, bright yellow brimmed hat, terrific dangling earrings."

There was hardly an empty seat Tuesday inside the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Baltimore, as family, friends, colleagues and congregants packed a memorial service for Kohn, who died from gunshot wounds sustained from a Thursday shooting at her church in Ellicott City.

Kohn, 62, the church's co-rector, and Brenda Brewington, 59, the church's administrative assistant, were shot inside St. Peter's Episcopal Church offices. Police identified Douglas Franklin Jones, 56, a frequent visitor of the church's food pantry, as the suspected shooter. He was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound near the church.

Kohn's younger brother, Frank C. Kohn, told mourners that his sister "had a passion for social justice." He said she consoled many, including those who committed crimes, AIDS patients, people in hospice care, and others "that were angry with God."

"My sister joyfully lived her life in service," he said.

Seven years younger than his sister, Kohn focused on happy memories. He fondly recalled going as a teenager to visit her at Duke University. He said she tried to get him to try vegetarian food, but he was able to sneak off to eat at Burger King instead.

"She wouldn't want us to dwell on Thursday," he said.

Kari O'Grady, a colleague at Loyola University Maryland — where Kohn earned a doctorate in pastoral counseling in 2009 — recalled her enthusiasm and humility, and said she "embraced life."

After Kohn earned her doctorate, O'Grady said Kohn had planned a graduation gift to herself: She would overcome a fear of needles and get a tattoo.

"'I'm going to put on my big girl panties and do it,'" Kohn wrote in an email to a fellow student, O'Grady said. And she followed through with a flower on the inside of her ankle.

The Rev. John L. Rabb of St. John's — a sister parish — recalled her "colorful" appearance, mentioning her hat and earrings. But he said her greatest legacy will be her "true faith."

Since 2009, Kohn was co-rector of St. Peter's with Rev. Kirk Alan Kubicek.

Kubicek said he grew close with Kohn and Brewington, saying the three worked together on a daily basis on church affairs, including managing three church properties.

"It's mighty empty in the office now," he said.

He said the two had become almost like family — Kohn stayed at his home when she had two hip surgeries, during holidays and when she received her doctorate, many from the church had attended her graduation.

He said he's returned to find some of Kohn's personal items, such as a two mix tapes — one titles "The 80s Hot Dance Trax," and Madonna's "Like a Prayer." Those selections caused the whole room to break out into laughter. Everyone grew quiet, however, when he mentioned discovering her apron with the words, "Happy to Help" written on it.

He also recalled how she would hold her hands at the alter — each of her long fingers had a ring, some had two — and spoke of her "ineradicable pastoral preaching."

And even in death, Kohn continues to help those close to her.

"She provided us with the spiritual tools to get through today," he said.