Eileen Franch, a Baltimore-based attorney who represented children in the city’s foster care system and impoverished adults, died of cancer Jan. 2 at the age of 78.
She was born in New York City, the daughter of Michael Ochis, a certified public accountant, and Alice Edgerton Ochis. Her parents moved to Bergen County in northern New Jersey, where she graduated from Tenafly High School in 1959. She graduated from Michigan State University in 1963 with a degree in psychology.
Ms. Franch moved to Maryland after studying psychology at the University of Maryland’s graduate program in 1963 and met her husband, Michael Franch, there a few years later.
She graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 1974, and the two moved to Baltimore, where she became a Vista Volunteer with the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, a nonprofit that works with adults in poverty.
Ms. Franch tackled a number of topics over the years, and her husband said she had a passion for addressing social issues as well as for creating music.
Before her becoming an attorney, Mr. Franch said, the two of them co-chaired the University of Maryland, College Park’s Fair Housing Committee, “which sought to change the university’s policy of maintaining segregated off-campus housing lists.”
Once Ms. Franch became an attorney, she worked for two decades in her firm’s Child Advocacy Unit, which represented children in the state’s foster care system.
Mary Pat Clarke, who represents Baltimore’s 14th Council District, said Ms. Franch’s community-centric approach extended beyond the courtroom, as she helped with the district’s “MTA Workgroup 14,” which looked to address issues with bus routes that were being changed in 2016.
Ms. Clarke said Ms. Franch and her husband “were like the Batman and Robin” of the group, with Ms. Franch acting as a “quiet, but strong” member.
The councilwoman said Ms. Franch would regularly ride the bus on behalf of the group to come back with recommendations on where service was limited or could be affected by new routes.
“Eileen was a very smart, very community-oriented woman," Ms. Clarke said. “She and her husband, they were a team.”
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Mr. Franch also pointed to her work with the Geud Band of Baltimore, a rehearsed open band that would allow anyone to join and would organize dances with as many as 17 musicians playing.
The two of them were avid folk music fans and longtime members of the Baltimore Folk Music Society. They would participate in the society’s contra and English country dances as well as play the clarinet during some dances.
Her husband said he was slightly worried that, because of her quiet nature, she’d be lonely if he was the first one to die.
However, he said, since her death, he’s gotten an outpouring of letters and notes from people his wife has touched in the past.
“She got like hundreds of emails and notes from people who have commented on her smile and how encouraging she was to them,” he said.
She is survived by her husband and her daughter, Emily Franch, both of Baltimore.
An interment service with green burial will be held Monday at 11:30 a.m. in Baltimore Hebrew Cemetery, 2100 Belair Road, Baltimore