Josephine Atwater, state employee

Josephine Atwater, a retired state Department of Human Resources employee who was a founding member of the Renaissance Institute at Notre Dame of Maryland University, died of cancer Thursday at her Halethorpe home. She was 89.

Born Josephine Louise McNulty in Baltimore, she was the daughter of Thomas Aloysius McNulty, an Army Corps of Engineers employee, and Catherine Louise Gempp McNulty, who worked at American Can Co.


Raised on Poplar Grove Street, she was a 1942 graduate of the Institute of Notre Dame and earned a bachelor of arts degree at Notre Dame of Maryland University after attending Mount St. Agnes Junior College. In 1990, she received a master's degree in publication design at the University of Baltimore.

As a young woman, she wrapped Christmas presents at the old Hutzler's department store. She was also a feature writer for The Catholic Review in the 1940s. She taught at the House of the Good Shepherd.


In 1950, she married Edward C. Atwater Sr., a Baltimore Sun sportswriter.

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Mrs. Atwater was active in Democratic politics and in the civil rights movement. She picketed at the segregated Five Oaks swimming pool in Catonsville.

In the 1970s, she was an assistant public information officer for the state's Department of Human Resources.

Mrs. Atwater was a founding member of the Renaissance Institute at Notre Dame of Maryland University. She taught autobiographical writing and was an editor of the Renaissance Institute's magazine.

She was also a small-publications editor and used desktop publishing software. She painted and was a regular patron at the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Art Museum. She subscribed to Center Stage and Everyman theaters. She sewed for her family and made her own clothes. She entertained and was an accomplished cook.

A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Our Lady of the Angels Roman Catholic Church, 711 Maiden Choice Lane in Catonsville

Survivors include four sons, Thomas Atwater of Reston, Va., David Atwater of Denton, Edward C. "Ned" Atwater Jr. and Daniel Atwater, both of Catonsville; two daughters, Julie Andersen of Halethorpe and Mary Louise Atwater of Relay; and 10 grandchildren. Her husband of 22 years died in 1972.