Mary Ann McCardell Daily, former Walters Art Museum publicist, dies

Mary Ann McCardell Daily was a former Walters Art Museum public relations director who later worked with a senior citizen agency.
Mary Ann McCardell Daily was a former Walters Art Museum public relations director who later worked with a senior citizen agency. (Baltimore Sun)

Mary Ann McCardell Daily, a former Walters Art Museum public relations director who later worked with a senior citizen agency, died of complications from dementia Saturday at the Augsburg Lutheran Home in Baltimore.

The former Roland Park resident was 84.


Born Mary Ann McCardell in Baltimore, she was raised on Wilmslow Road. She was the daughter of Lee McCardell, a World War II overseas correspondent for The Baltimore Sun and later an editor of the old Evening Sun, and his wife, Nancy Arnold.

Her name appeared in The Sun while her father covered World War II as a Sunpapers war correspondent. He wrote an annual Christmas Day letter, and coined a nickname for her, "Dah." When her father returned in May 1945, he had no key and knocked on the door of the family home. Her sister admitted him and she immediately greeted him.

She was a 1949 graduate of Notre Dame Preparatory School. She received a fine-arts degree from what is now Notre Dame of Maryland University and also received the school's Peggy Steinbughler Award for excellence in arts and crafts.

In 1953, she married Jerome M. Kennedy, the son of U.S. Rep. Ambrose J. Kennedy.

She raised a family in housing at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County, where her husband was serving in the Army.

She also visited her father in Rome in 1959 when he served there as a bureau chief for The Sun. She visited the Vatican and toured Florence and Paris.

Upon returning to Baltimore from that visit, she spent a year at the Institute of Notre Dame in East Baltimore teaching art and a senior-level art history program.

She began work at The Sun and performed layout and page planning duties for the bridal pages. She also began writing book reviews and continued to do so for many years.

She also wrote occasional feature articles for the paper. Her son, J. McDonald Kennedy Jr., recalled that she chronicled how the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen men's and boys' choir — which included two of her sons — sang at the 1966 wedding of Luci Baines Johnson, the daughter of President Lyndon B. Johnson, in Washington.

While at The Sun, she was active in the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild and walked a picket line during a 1966 strike.

In 1967, Richard Randall, director of what is now the Walters Art Museum, recruited her to become the institution's director of public relations.

While at the Walters, she handled press and television for the gala opening of the museum's first major expansion — a series of new galleries in a rough concrete addition at the corner of Cathedral and Centre streets in 1974.

She appeared on WJZ-TV as she described the museum opening. She remained at the Walters until 1979.

After a short stint working for the U.S. Department of Labor, she taught at a Dundalk parochial school.


She then worked for the group Action in Maturity, based in North Baltimore, from 1983 until she retired in 2000. She edited a newsletter and arranged events for the organization.

Upon retirement, she took on volunteer work at the Keswick Multi-Care Center. She worked with its residents in art therapy programs.

On a personal level, she enjoyed painting with oil and water colors throughout her life, and set up an art studio in her living room. She gave her paintings away to friends and family members.

She also sang in the women's choir at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

She enjoyed reading books and newspapers, and submitted essays to The Sun and Evening Sun. In one of these articles, she described a colorful scene of how her sons used their great-great-grandfather's heavy metal candy molds to stretch the leather pockets on their lacrosse sticks.

She wrote a book called "ABC's of Christmas." It was never published, but family members said its pages were read at family gatherings for many years.

A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St.

In addition to her son, survivors include two other sons; David A. Kennedy and Lee M. Kennedy, both of Baltimore; two sisters, Abby M. Martin of Washington and Sarah M. Young of Port Chester, New York; and five grandchildren. Her marriages to Jerome M. Kennedy and Frank F. Daily ended in divorce.