Jean Peters Pilch, 60, Worked At New Directions Agency

April 20, 1997|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Jean Peters Pilch, an educator and author who was conference coordinator for Maryland New Directions Inc., died Monday of ovarian cancer at the Hospice of Howard County. The Catonsville resident was 60.

During the past four years while she was associated with the Baltimore nonprofit counseling agency and career resource center, Mrs. Pilch often worked with welfare recipients who hoped to find permanent jobs.

"Jean was a very spiritual and ethical person, and it came out in the way she approached her work," said Rose Marie Coughlin, executive director of the organization, formerly known as New Directions for Women. "Her clients were important to her, and she always treated them with a great deal of respect and dignity. She always gave them hope and worked hard to give them the resources that they needed so they could find a job and move on."

In addition to organizing career counseling conferences, Mrs. Pilch compiled a 72-page resource book that listed agencies and services available to clients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

Ms. Coughlin described Mrs. Pilch as being a "role model and a very special person."

"She had a great wit and a stiff upper lip, and that attitude kept her going," she said.

The Rev. Joseph L. Muth, pastor of St. Matthew Roman Catholic Church, said: "She had great compassion for disadvantaged people, but it wasn't pity, but rather action that led her. She possessed a real willingness and determination to help people."

Mrs. Pilch came to Baltimore in 1988 to be executive manager and assistant to the secretary for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore's department of Christian formation. She came from Milwaukee, where she had been director of child catechetics for that archdiocese since 1981.

In 1990, Mrs. Pilch transferred to the Archdiocese of Baltimore's telecommunications office, where she was executive producer and director. During her tenure, she wrote and produced a Lenten series and educational videotapes.

With Sadlier Publishers of New York, Mrs. Pilch published 10 catechetical textbooks and wrote many articles on religious education.

She was born Jean Peters in Fort Smith, Ark., and graduated from St. Scholastica Academy there. She earned a bachelor's degree in religion in 1970 from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kan., and a master's degree in religious education in 1974 from Seattle University.

She began her career as an educator in 1956 in Missouri and later was director of the Benedictine School of Music in Amarillo, Texas.

"She came from a strong conservative Catholic background and was a very affirming and positive person," said her husband of 22 years, Dr. John J. Pilch, a professor of theology at Georgetown University in Washington.

A Mass of Christian burial was offered yesterday in Fort Smith.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. May 3 at St. Matthew Roman Catholic Church, Loch Raven Boulevard at Woodbourne Avenue, in Baltimore.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by her mother, Sammie Peters Long of Fort Smith; and a brother, Steve Peters of Van Buren, Ark.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Jean Peters Pilch Fund, c/o Maryland New Directions, 2220 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21218.

Pub Date: 4/20/97

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