Mary L. Shelley, 79, ministry worker

October 25, 2001|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Mary Louise Shelley, a retired secretary who was part of her husband's ministry to alcoholics, died Monday of a heart attack at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. She was 79 and had lived in Timonium since 1998, after four decades in Baltimore's Charles Village and Remington neighborhoods.

The wife of Father Harry E. Shelley, an Episcopal priest who died Aug. 30, she had worked with him in his ministries to alcoholics and hospice patients at the Church of the Guardian Angel in Remington, St. Michael & All Angels in Charles Village and Mount Calvary Episcopal Church in downtown Baltimore, where she remained a communicant. The couple married in 1948.

"I think every alcoholic in Baltimore knew where our front door was," she said in a 1973 Sun article that detailed their work in establishing local counseling and treatment centers.

"She was the person who provided the background support. She was ready with a cup of coffee - our house was like an unofficial Alcoholics Anonymous meeting," said her son, James M. Shelley of Reisterstown. "She had no trouble opening her door to anyone."

She had been a legal secretary in the 1940s at Maryland Title Guarantee Co., and was church secretary at Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation in Guilford and at St. John's United Methodist Church in Charles Village in the 1960s and 1970s.

Born Mary Louise Gosnell in Woodbine, she was a graduate of Mount Airy High School. After working as a substitute teacher at Eastern High School in the 1960s, she decided she wanted a college degree. She often took one class per semester at what is now Towson University and received a bachelor's degree in education in 1981.

During World War II, she was a member of the Women's Army Corps at Camp Kilmer, N.J.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Mount Calvary, at Eutaw and Madison streets.

In addition to her son, Mrs. Shelley is survived by another son, Stephen E. Shelley of Phoenix; two daughters, M. Eileen Menton of Laurel and Linda J. Krantz of Churchville; two brothers, John Gosnell of Sykesville and William Gosnell of Cedar City, Utah; seven grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

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