Jean Marie Harris Jung, a civic activist in Dundalk, dies

Jean Marie Harris Jung was named the Dundalk Optimist Club’s 2000 Woman of the Year.

Jean Marie Harris Jung, a civic activist, died of heart failure Sept. 18 at Augsburg Lutheran Home, an assisted living facility where she had been a resident since 2019. She was 89 and formerly lived on Sunberry Road in Dundalk.

She was named the Dundalk Optimist Club’s 2000 Citizen of the Year.


Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, she was the daughter of Guy Harris and Rebecca Brandon. Ms. Jung earned a degree at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and received a master’s in library science at the University of North Carolina. She also pursued a doctorate at the University of Maryland, College Park.

She met her first husband, Walker Jung, while she was a student at North Carolina. After serving as a Temple University librarian, she and her husband moved to Baltimore.


“She was a lifelong learner, enjoyed good books and interesting talks and travel for educational purposes,” said the Rev. Clare Petersberger, her minister at Towson Unitarian Universalist Church.

She sponsored a youth group member to go on a civil rights tour in the South, a tour organized by the Universalist College for Social Justice.

“She was a gracious hostess who enjoying sharing a good meal and liked to partake in Baltimore Restaurant Week,” said Rev. Petersberger. “She loved beauty and supported our Gallery Unicorn with its rotating art shows.”

“She was open to new ideas and a supporter of Planned Parenthood of Maryland,” her minister said. “Jean was thoughtful and caring and committed to social justice.”

Ms. Jung settled in Dundalk and became a librarian at Holabird Junior High School.

After a funeral home attempted to build a mortuary near her home, she took an active interest in local zoning issues and other causes.

She became president of the Community Assistance Network, a group that supported the Move to Opportunity for Fair Housing, a federal program to relocate low-income Baltimore City residents to homes in Baltimore County.

“We are not just one class of people, we are not just one race of people,” she said in a 2000 Dundalk Eagle article.


She also described her community as “not a sterile suburban development devoid of personality and a sense of community.”

Ms. Jung voiced her opinion when there was a plan to relocate the Dundalk district courthouse.

“With closing the courthouse and possibly moving the post office located across the street, state and federal officials are removing institutions that signify the heart of a community,” she said in a 1999 Sun article. “To us, it is significant, a step back.”

She ran unsuccessfully for a seat for a seat on the Baltimore County Council in 1994.

In an editorial page endorsement, The Sun said of her candidacy, “Ms. Jung has a long record of the type of government experience that would serve a council member well. ... Jean Jung is clearly the better choice.”

She was later appointed a zoning commissioner and was named to the Baltimore County Board of Education in 1999. She represented the Seventh Council District.


When Joseph Palczynski held three hostages for four days in the Berkshire neighborhood in 2000, the incident attracted wide media attention.

Ms. Jung said she was concerned about the emotional scars that could affect Dundalk children.

“This is a very difficult time, and the children are the most vulnerable, yet unprepared to deal with this,” said Ms. Jung said in a Sun story after she met with teachers from Berkshire Elementary, Holabird Middle and Dundalk High schools.

Ms. Jung also served as vice chair of the Baltimore County Planning Board and was a member of the Baltimore County Commission on Arts & Sciences.

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“My mother embodied a hectic sort of kindness and optimism,” said her son, James Walker Jung. “Her house was always open to all sorts of folks: the kids down the street, an international refugee, the young friend of a friend just moving to town to become a teacher."


He said his mother “was hopeful for Dundalk and the country and the world.” She donated to save elephants and protect women and paid way too much to win a license plate that read “Dundalk01″ at a charity auction, her son said.

“She liked to travel and was a little adventurous, dined with giraffes, kissed the Blarney Stone and did her first shot of tequila, all after the age of 50,” he said. “She was raised Southern Baptist, taught Sunday school at Dundalk Methodist and eventually found her way to Towson Unitarian.”

“She was full of kindness and hope and opened her heart and home to everyone from the kids down the street to strangers that need a place to stay,” her son said.

She was a past president of the Dundalk Community College Foundation and served in the Greater Dundalk Community Council and the Dundalk Concert Association.

She is survived by her son, James Walker Jung of Falls Church, Virginia. Her daughter, Rebecca Marie Jung, died in 2011. Her marriage to Walker Jung, a Baltimore County schools physical education teacher, ended in divorce. Her husband Alfred Bolz, a retired engineer, died in 1989.

A celebration-of-life service will be held at 11 a.m. Nov. 5 at the Towson Unitarian Universalist Church, 1710 Dulaney Valley Road.