Margaret E. Dougherty was a former editor of Maryland Magazine.
Margaret E. Dougherty was a former editor of Maryland Magazine. (HANDOUT)

Margaret E. Dougherty, former editor of Maryland Magazine who sought to highlight the beauty, diversity and history of the Free State, died of a stroke Tuesday at College Manor Nursing Home in Lutherville.

The former longtime Federal Hill resident was 96.

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The daughter of Joseph F. Dougherty, head of the detective bureau of the Baltimore Police Department, and Mary Agnes Dougherty, a registered nurse, Margaret Elizabeth Dougherty was born in Baltimore and raised in the 1700 block of North Broadway.

After graduating in 1937 from the Institute of Notre Dame, she earned a bachelor's degree in English in 1941 from what is now Notre Dame of Maryland University.

She later earned a second bachelor's degree in foreign trade from the Thunderbird Garvin School of International Management in Phoenix, Ariz.

Miss Dougherty also held a master's degree in Latin American History, which she earned from Georgetown University.

"When I stop learning, I get very restless," she told The Baltimore Sun in a 1982 interview. "That's what I like about writing. You're constantly going out to meet the world and learning something new."

During World War II, she enlisted in the Navy with the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) program. She worked in communications at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station near Philadelphia and at Alameda Naval Air Station in Alameda, Calif., where she also held the positions of air transport officer and personnel officer.

She was discharged in 1948 and remained in the Naval Reserve until retiring in 1975 with the rank of captain.

She worked three years as a secretary for National Geographic magazine and later joined The Baltimore Sun, where she worked closely with maritime editor Helen Delich Bentley. Miss Dougherty was appointed chief of publications in the 1960s for the Maryland Port Authority.

"Operating almost inconspicuously from her desk in the offices of the state agency, the diminutive brunette with the easy smile combines a knowledge of the shipping industry with the talents of a writer and artist to help create, produce and distribute a tremendous variety of publications," wrote The Sun in a 1966 profile.

Miss Dougherty oversaw production of the agency's booklets and brochures — from conception to working with writers, artists, printers and even directing circulation to maritime interests in 100 countries around the world.

She wrote and edited what was then called the Port of Baltimore Bulletin, and also arranged promotional events, gave talks on the port before civic organizations and provided oral commentary to visitors taking harbor tours.

In 1967, then-Gov. Spiro T. Agnew announced the launching of Maryland Magazine to help promote the state's history, culture and people. John T. McCarthy, who had been editor of the Maryland Conservationist, was selected as editor, with Miss Dougherty as associate editor.

Miss Dougherty became editor the next year of the quarterly publication, which was published by the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

Directing a small staff, she guided a publication that became known not only for its editorial content but also for its photography and typography — showcased on high-quality glossy paper.

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"I really did everything from A to Z," she told The Sun in 1982. "I had to handle personnel, all the administration, the subscription fulfillment system, the supplies … supervise everything. A lot of it didn't have anything to do with what appeared on the page. I was stretched pretty thin."

She waged battles to keep the magazine free from influence by politicians seeking self-promotion in its pages. She also had to maintain an editorial balance between Tidewater Maryland and Western Maryland.

"I picked up plenty of flak from Western Maryland," Miss Dougherty recalled in The Sun interview. "They were asking if I thought the state ended in Baltimore."

She worked to recruit experienced newspaper writers and also encouraged new writers — even though she described the pay as "appalling."

"If I've done nothing else but help people in Western Maryland appreciate the people on the Eastern Shore, and the people in Southern Maryland get to know Baltimore people better, I feel I've done something," she said.

She retired in 1982.

She restored a home on Warren Avenue in Federal Hill, and later restored another at Bond and Shakespeare streets in Fells Point that had once been a Victorian seamen's rooming house.

Miss Dougherty had been the longtime president of the Society for the Preservation of Federal Hill, Montgomery Street and Fells Point.

During her tenure as president during the 1970s, she participated in the successful effort to keep proposed extensions of Interstates 83 and 95 through Fells Point and Federal Hill out of those historic neighborhoods.

"We're against any road, period. I don't care if they put it in the sky," she told The Sun in 1976.

She had been an active communicant of St. Mary, Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church in Baltimore.

Miss Dougherty enjoyed reading, writing, traveling and entertaining family and friends.

In 2006, she moved to the Charlestown Retirement Community, where she lived until moving to College Manor in 2014.

Miss Dougherty never married. "I'm not unhappy about that," she said in the 1982 interview. "I think there's nothing greater than a good marriage, but I've known a lot of people and I feel I've had a rather good life."

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Lemmon Funeral Home, 10 W. Padonia Road, in Timonium.

She is survived by her brother, J. Robert Dougherty of Parkville; four nieces; and two nephews.

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