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Helen Ann Welsh Hardy, Harford County attorney, dies

Helen Ann Welsh Hardy, Harford County attorney, dies
Helen Ann Welsh Hardy was a retired family practice attorney who was also active in her family's restaurant. (HANDOUT / HANDOUT)

Helen Ann Welsh Hardy, a retired family practice attorney who had been active in her family's Baltimore restaurant, died of cancer July 27 at her Glen Arm home.

She was 84.

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Born in Baltimore and raised in the Orchards, she was the daughter of the well-known restaurateur Martin J. Welsh and Nell Cockey Welsh.

In a memoir, Ms. Hardy recalled her father and his restaurants, saying she "grew up in the lively company of Baltimore journalists, judges and politicians who frequented our home and his popular restaurants, House of Welsh, Marty's and Marty's Park Plaza."

The House of Welsh, founded by her ancestors, was on Guilford Avenue near City Hall. Marty's was on Fayette Street near the courthouse and the old Baltimore Sun building, and Marty's Park Plaza faced the Washington Monument.

She wrote that "at her father's insistence" she attended the Cathedral School on Mulberry Street. She then enrolled at Notre Dame Preparatory School, but her schooling was interrupted in her junior year when she was diagnosed with tuberculosis.

"When it was discovered that I had tubercular pleurisy and was confined to bed for 10 months, I was sent to Trudeau Sanitarium in Saranac Lake, N.Y. After many painful treatments, I borrowed money from a sympathetic fellow patient and escaped. I returned home via plane from Lake Placid," she wrote in her memoir.

In 1950, she spent a semester at what is now Notre Dame of Maryland University and then transferred to the hotel management program at Cornell University with an eye toward joining her father at his restaurants. But she was unable to continue in the program at Cornell because of concern about her experience with tuberculosis.

She returned to Baltimore, enrolled in a secretarial course and helped in her father's Fayette Street restaurant as his secretary and a hostess.

While on the beach at Ocean City, she met Glenn W. Hardy. "It was love at first sight for both of us," she wrote.

They married after he graduated from the University of Virginia in 1954. Her husband was in the military and assigned to England, where they resided.

She recalled that while returning to Baltimore in 1956 aboard the steamship Mauretania, she lost her footing on a wet deck while walking her pet boxer, Sandy. "I was pulled to safety by the ship's butcher ... to avoid ending up in the Atlantic Ocean," she wrote.

Mrs. Hardy raised three children and returned to school at Notre Dame of Maryland to receive a bachelor's degree. She then earned a law degree from the University of Baltimore when she was 58.

She specialized in family law and worked in a then-new program in the Maryland Public Defender's Office. She represented clients throughout Maryland until becoming chief advocate for parents of abused children in Harford County.

"It was always my aim to return the children to their families if at all possible," she wrote. "Except for egregious situations, children, I believe, should remain with their parents. This is what the law provides and is far less traumatic for the children."

She also worked in a Harford County drug court with repeat offenders, and traveled to attend conferences and meet with other officials to learn about new ideas in drug rehabilitation.

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"She was high-energy and was very much a family person," said her son-in-law, James Brennan. "She loved being with her grandchildren and making memories of those times."

An accomplished cook, she enjoyed her role as a family hostess and party planner. She read "A Visit from St. Nicholas" to family members at an annual holiday gathering at her home.

She enjoyed dancing and swimming. She also traveled to Europe, South America and the Caribbean.

She had been a member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Hydes and served on its parish council.

In 1976, she served as the chair of the Greater Long Green Valley two-day bicentennial event. With assistance from corporate donors, she arranged for food and beverages for 3,000 valley residents. She said she also introduced fireworks to the festivities — a tradition that continues.

Her husband of 57 years, an executive of a commercial fabrication and glazing business, died in 2011.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Carmelite Monastery, 1318 Dulaney Valley Road in Towson, where she regularly attended services..

Survivors include a son, Glenn Ridgley Hardy of Owings Mills; a daughter, Melinda Hardy Ryan of Wilmington, Del.; eight grandchildren; and three step-grandchildren. A daughter, Anne Talbot Brennan, died in 2009.

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