Virginia A. Mellendick, former human resources director for Catholic Charities of Baltimore, who earlier held a similar position with Hutzler’s department store, died Saturday in her sleep at St. Elizabeth Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Violetville. The former longtime Gwynn Oak resident was 92.
“Virginia was one of the great unsung heroes at Catholic Charities. She was the glue that held it all together,” said Greg Conderacci of Towson, who worked for a decade with Mrs. Mellendick. “She created the human resources system that is still there today. She’s truly a hero in my book.”
The former Virginia Ann Henderson, daughter of Leonard Henderson, a movie projectionist, and his wife, Ann Flanagan Henderson, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised in the city’s Lake Montebello neighborhood. She was a 1945 graduate of Catholic High School.
In 1950, she married Charles Jerome “Jerry” Mellendick, the manager of the Baltimore Stationery Co.'s printing plant. After the birth of her four children, Mrs. Mellendick began working in 1966 as a sales associate at Hutzler’s, eventually earning a promotion to human resources director. In 1977, she went to work for Catholic Charities.
“I first met Virginia when she was the personnel supervisor at Westview and then she moved to the Howard Street store,” said Jim Hillman, who later worked with Mrs. Mellendick at Catholic Charities. “She was one of the most motivated and hardworking individuals I’ve ever worked with. She was quite a capable person and loved solving problems.”
Mr. Hillman, a resident of Belfast, Maine, was working at Hutzler’s White Marsh store when his phone rang one day.
“It was from Virginia, who was director of personnel for Catholic Charities. She said there was a position open in Washington at Catholic Charities, and then I came over to Baltimore as manager of resource development for Gallagher Services,” said Mr. Hillman, who retired from Catholic Charities in 2013.
“She could be quite a lot of fun but was very serious about her work. In other words, she didn’t suffer fools gladly,” he said. “She was always looking out for people. She had a great instinct for it and the heart of a mother.”
“Virginia always remained in the background, and her work was indispensable to the agency. She was a terrific person, and everyone who worked with her knew how terrific she was,” Mr. Conderacci said. “She had a wonderful personality and was the kind of person you wanted to work with.”
He said Mrs. Mellendick was an expert at conflict mediation.
“She was one of the people who really knew everybody in the real sense of the word at Catholic Charities,” he said.
“She really appreciated what everyone brought to the party. She had a great sense of humor and always had a joke to tell. People who are in human resources are often grim and officious, but that wasn’t Virginia,” said Mr. Conderacci who left the agency in 1990, but continues to volunteer there.
“She was transformative, quiet, low-key and self-effacing. It was always about the agency and the folks there,” he said.
“Ecclesiastes teaches us that there is a time for everything, and the remarkable thing about Virginia was that she knew the time to say something to someone to be helpful, and that is a real art,” said the Rev. Ray Chase, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church in downtown Baltimore and chaplain at St. Elizabeth Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.
“If there was something that needed to be said, she would not compromise what she thought the person should hear,” Father Chase said. “She was deeply committed to the person she was talking to and was a person of deep compassion. She was a giver in the context of her family and to Catholic Charities, and to those who came to the agency seeking help, they received her compassion.”
In addition to her regular job, Mrs. Mellendick’s responsibilities included helping coordinate Pope John Paul II’s visit to Baltimore in 1995 and traveling to Korea to accompany infants back to the U.S. as part of the Roman Catholic Church’s international adoption program.
Mrs. Mellendick retired in 1998 but continued to volunteer with Catholic Charities as well as with the Little Sisters of the Poor.
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She was an avid reader and a “fan of thrillers and murder mysteries,” said a daughter, Patricia M. McGonigle of Halethorpe. She was an Orioles fan and could often be found at Camden Yards and “religiously watched Ravens games,” her daughter said.
In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Mellendick is survived by a son, Jerome Mellendick of Catonsville; another daughter, Elizabeth A. Foley of Lutherville; a sister, Janet Bollinger of Bel Air; eight grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren. Another daughter, Nancy P. Mellendick, died in 2008.