Mary A. Plunkett, a writer and longtime volunteer at Stella Maris Hospice, dies

Mary A. Plunkett, a writer and longtime volunteer who was known for summer parties that entertained her husband’s Baltimore Sun colleagues, died May 17 of congestive heart failure at Stella Maris Hospice.

The Timonium resident had celebrated her 90th birthday on Mother’s Day.

“Mary was outgoing, friendly and always a pleasure to be with,” said Dorrie Wilfong, a Lutherville resident and friend of 20 years. “She enjoyed volunteering and doing things with her husband at our church.”

The former Mary Agnes Golden, the daughter of an Irish immigrant father, Philip Eugene Golden, a Baltimore Transit Co. streetcar repairman, and his wife, Mary Margaret Griffin Golden, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised on Wade Avenue in Catonsville.

Mrs. Plunkett was a 1947 Seton High School graduate and was in her 50s when she earned a degree from the Community College of Baltimore County Essex.

She developed an interest in writing when in grade school when she wrote plays and then turned to writing short stories in junior and senior high school.

“Mary was such a dear friend,” said Peggy Pellens Custer, a Silver Spring resident and Seton classmate. “She was always a hard worker, and I remember her working on our yearbook.”

She met her future husband, John H. Plunkett, a Sun copy editor, at the Irish House in Ocean City and married him in 1954.

Her husband, who later became chief of the copy desk and an assistant managing editor, always worked the 4 p.m. to midnight shift.

“Because John worked nights, it was largely up to Mary to raise their six children,” Mrs. Wilfong said.

“She made hot breakfasts for her children every morning, endured the crazy schedule of her husband’s for many years when he worked nights at The Sun and always had a plate of food warming in the oven when he got home in the wee hours of the morning,” a daughter, Betsy Plunkett of Timonium, wrote in a biographical profile of her mother.

“She coordinated six children’s activities ranging from Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, ballet, piano, baseball, basketball, horseback riding and much more,” Ms. Plunkett wrote.

Despite her obligations at home, Mrs. Plunkett still found time to be an active volunteer. When she was 20 years old, she established a Mass for residents of Spring Grove Hospital Center in Catonsville.

A devout Roman Catholic, she had been a communicant of St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church in Govans, where her children attended the parish school, and later of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Roman Catholic Church after moving to Timonium.

At Nativity, she and her husband worked at the information desk and helped prepare and serve bereavement lunches.

Mrs. Plunkett was fond of saying, “I couldn’t have done it without him. He was such a help.”

She was a longtime volunteer at Stella Maris Hospice and for more than 30 years prepared a casserole for Our Daily Bread, a downtown Baltimore soup kitchen.

“Mary was always aware of the less fortunate and she made time to do it,” Mrs. Custer said. “When she went shopping, she always purchased extra food, which she set aside and gave to charitable institutions.”

An avid gardener, Mrs. Plunkett was a member for 40 years of the York Manor Garden Club and volunteered at Oregon Ridge Nature Center, where she helped maintain its gardens.

Mrs. Plunkett, who continued writing throughout her life, was a member with her daughter, Betsy, of Wednesday Writers, a writers’ group, and whose self-published book, “Filling in the Dash,” contains several of her stories.

“The Dash. It’s how you live your life. It’s the content that fills the time between your dates of birth and death,” said Ms. Plunkett, explaining the book’s title.

She also was proofreader for her husband, who wrote and edited The Geezer Gazette, a Sun retirees’ newsletter.

Every summer, the couple held an annual pool party and picnic at their home.

“He posted a flier on the bulletin board at the newspaper, because everyone was welcome. It was a blowout,” Ms. Plunkett wrote in a February letter to her mother.

“And you wouldn’t think of catering it; you made everything from the coleslaw to the baked beans and desserts yourself, a few people brought that would serve about four of the 100 people who stopped in for a quick bite, some laughs and a dip in the pool before their shifts at The Sun began,” Ms. Plunkett wrote.

“It was an all day affair — the memories and relationships that grew from those parties surely helped to endure many long, chaotic nights in the newsroom,” she wrote.

Mrs. Plunkett, and her husband, who died in 2017, were world travelers and enjoyed visiting the newspaper’s foreign correspondents.

One of the highlights of her life was being in Rome for the canonization of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, in 1975.

A Mass of Christian burial for Mrs. Plunkett will be offered at 10 a.m. June 1 at her church, 20 E. Ridgely Road, Lutherville.

In addition to her daughter, she is survived by three sons, Phil Plunkett of Mays Chapel, Dan Plunkett of Phoenix, Baltimore County, and Larry Plunkett of Cockeysville; two other daughters, Trudy Dashiell of Parkville and Peggy Hundley of Cockeysville; 15 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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