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Jo-Anne D. Stough, retired social worker and Project Home director and a free spirit and outdoorswoman, dies

Jo-Anne D. Stough worked at Fort McHenry as an award-winning tour guide.
Jo-Anne D. Stough worked at Fort McHenry as an award-winning tour guide.

Jo-Anne D. Stough, a retired Baltimore social worker, volunteer and free spirit who enjoyed the outdoors, died May 21 at Gilchrist Center Hospice in Towson of pancreatic cancer. The longtime Remington resident was 71.

The former Jo-Anne Douglass, daughter of Joseph Francis Douglass, a Social Security Administration claims adjuster, and his wife, Anne Jean Douglass, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised in Catonsville.

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A graduate of Catonsville High School, she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1972 in sociology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a master’s degree in 1980 from the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

Ms. Stough became a free spirit early in her life.

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“A lifelong hippy, Jo-Anne hitchhiked to the historic Woodstock music festival when she was 19 and, as the story goes, got to hang out in the back of the Grateful Dead’s van,” wrote a niece, Maeve Dunigan, in a biographical profile of her aunt.

“Later, she became immersed in the thriving arts scene of the 1970s Baltimore. In her early 20s, Jo-Anne rubbed shoulders with the eminent filmmaker John Waters, and his frequent collaborator, infamous drag queen, Divine. She can be seen as an extra in a few of Waters’ iconic cult films and even appears in the trailer for ‘Female Trouble.’”

Ms. Dunigan described her aunt as an “empathetic problem solver who dedicated her talents to helping others.”

Ms. Stough began her career working for the state in Baltimore as a social worker in adoptions, and later became director of Project Home, a supportive housing program, where she helped provide adult foster care and assisted in end-of-life support for HIV patients. After retiring in 2010, she worked at Fort McHenry as an award-winning tour guide, and was still doing so at her death.

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But it was the call of the wild that attracted Ms. Stough and her husband, Tom Stough, a statistician, with the state Department of Public Safety.

“I had just gotten back from Vietnam and met Jo-Anne on a blind date, and in 1972, I moved from Hagerstown to Baltimore,” Mr. Stough recalled. “She was a free spirit and we both shared an interest in hiking and the outdoors.”

The couple married in 1992.

“We had been on a ski trip and a justice of the peace married us in Salt Lake City, a city I always loved,” said Mr. Stough, who had gotten to know the city from his father’s stories when he worked on the atomic bomb project during World War II.

“Our ski trips out there always had to be after the legislative sessions ended in Annapolis because I was so busy with work,” he said.

Ms. Stough liked hiking in national parks and especially those in the Southwest. Favorite treks included the White Mountains in New Hampshire, as well as Baxter State Park in Millinocket, Maine, and Acadia National Park on Maine’s Mount Desert Island.

“We hiked across the Grand Canyon and that was a real favorite, as was Angels Landing in Zion National Park in Utah,” her husband said. “Because of her work at Fort McHenry, we visited Fort Bowie National Historic Site in southeastern Arizona, Fort Sumter near Charleston, South Carolina, and other historic forts.”

The longtime resident of Remington Avenue in Remington liked taking local urban hikes and long walks around her neighborhood and on the nearby campus of the Johns Hopkins University.

Ms. Dunigan described her as “warm, friendly and funny.”

Ms. Stough always hosted a large annual Christmas party.

“We have a pretty small rowhouse and it got awfully crowded with family and friends,” her husband said. “And she always had the house nicely decorated.”

“The eldest of four sisters, Jo-Anne was known for settling family disputes and for giving thoughtful gifts,” her niece wrote. “Jo-Anne did not have children and was beloved by her many nieces and nephews.”

“She very definitely had the oldest-child energy,” her niece said in a telephone interview. “She was very, very kind and outgoing, and when you walked into a room, she’d exclaim your name and make you feel so welcome.”

A visitation will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. June 6 at Sterling-Ashton-Schwab-Witzke Funeral Home of Catonsville at 1630 Edmondson Ave.

In addition to her husband of 29 years and niece, Ms. Stough is survived by her mother, Anne Jean Douglass of Catonsville; three sisters, Christine Jacobs and Cheryl Dunigan, both of Catonsville, and Lorraine Doucette of Arbutus; five nephews; and two other nieces.

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