Joanne Moroney, coordinator of Howard recreation events, dies

July 06, 1995|By Dana Hedgpeth | Dana Hedgpeth,Sun Staff Writer

Joanne Franklin Moroney, who worked in the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks for more than 15 years, died Friday of cancer at the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center in Baltimore. She was 52.

The department's former coordinator of special events organized the annual Holiday Mart crafts show, Sunset Serenades at Centennial Park and Wine in the Woods festival in Symphony Woods. Her responsibilities ranged from gathering vendors to renting space to arranging catering.

"Joanne was full of energy and enthusiasm no matter what the situation," said Shirley Miner, a friend and co-worker. "If you gave her a lemon, she'd make lemonade with it.

Ms. Moroney, an Ellicott City resident since 1970, had worked at the county's recreation department for 15 years.

Despite battling cancer for 18 months, friends and family said, Ms. Moroney had "generosity, grit and grace."

"When we both had cancer, she'd worry more about me than she should have . . . always calling up my wife to see how I was doing," said Pat Patterson, a friend and owner of PJ's restaurant in Ellicott City. "She never had anything bad to say about anyone, and she made sure that everyone knew she was thinking about them in some way."

Friends recalled how Ms. Moroney sent a card to a friend in Howard County who lost her ex-husband in the Oklahoma City bombing. She sent it from the hospital where she was undergoing a bone marrow transplant.

"That was a manifestation of her kindness, understanding and generosity," said another friend, Laura Steele. "Joanne would give you the clothes off her back if she thought you needed them more."

An avid traveler, Ms. Moroney grew up flying with her father in his plane from their home in Kankakee, Ill., to Canada and Central America. Last summer, she spent two weeks in Italy between chemotherapy treatments, family members said. In the early 1980s, she traveled with her children to Switzerland, France and Germany.

"Her philosophy was, don't put off everything. . . . You can be a little outrageous and be a little adventurous now, instead of waiting until you're older," Ms. Miner said.

Shortly before receiving the bone marrow transplant, Ms. Miner said, Ms. Moroney threw a pizza party for eight close friends and shared her favorite poem -- "Warning" by Jenny Joseph.

Ms. Miner said a line in the poem reads, "When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple and red hats," a line that she said reflects Ms. Moroney's life.

"She was spontaneous and did the things she wanted to do, when she felt she should," Ms. Miner said. "She had a great sense of humor and was always willing to try almost anything.

"Joanne was one who wasn't afraid to be different and do something like wearing something that didn't match."

Born in Memphis, Ms. Moroney graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in elementary education.

After marrying John E. Moroney in 1964, she moved to Catonsville in Baltimore County. Her husband died in 1980.

Ms. Moroney was a member of the Howard County Arts Council, Historic Ellicott City Inc. and the Howard County Tourism Council. For more than 20 years, she was active in the Columbia Hills Citizens Association, serving as vice president and then president. She also served on the Howard County Library Board and 4-H Program Advisory Council.

Services were held Monday. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society.

Survivors include two sons, John F. Moroney of Atlanta and Brian P. Moroney of Baltimore; a daughter, Laura A. Dvornicky of Severn; her mother, Dorothy Franklin, and sister, Carolyn Buckman, both of Kankakee; and a granddaughter.

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