Joan A. McDonough, 69, homemaker and gardener

September 25, 2005|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Joan A. McDonough, a homemaker and avid gardener who was known for her entertaining and home-cooked meals, died of complications from a stroke Thursday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Mays Chapel resident was 69.

She was born Joan Ann Mainolfi on Montebello Terrace at the home of her grandparents, and was raised with her brother above their father's and uncle's business, Mainolfi's Bar, on Harford Road.

She attended the parish school of the Roman Catholic Shrine of the Little Flower and graduated from Catholic High School in 1954. She was an administrative assistant at Edgewood Arsenal for three years before her 1957 marriage to E. Patrick McDonough, her high school sweetheart.

"They fell in love at first sight when they became jitterbug partners in 1952," said a daughter, M. Theresa "Terry" McDonough of Upper Marlboro.

Mrs. McDonough supported her husband while he earned his bachelor's degree from Loyola College and later went with him to Fort Sill, Okla., when he was serving in the Army.

The couple returned to Baltimore in 1958 and began raising a family. They lived in homes on Mary Avenue and Walker Avenue before moving to a home on Argonne Drive in Original Northwood in 1968.

Between her children, who would have their friends stay for dinner, or her husband, senior vice president and chief financial officer at the old VanSant Dugdale & Co. advertising agency, who would bring home business associates, her dining room table was always burgeoning with hungry guests.

"Everyone called her `Mom,' and she was famous for saying, `What's one more?'" her daughter said. "And through the years, a million people must have eaten, drunk, partied and slept at 1212 Argonne Drive. She had so many people coming and going that she never locked the back door."

Mrs. McDonough, who leaned heavily on Italian cuisine, prepared institutional-size pots of homemade spaghetti sauce, soups, stews, and, for dessert, fluffy cream puffs - all from scratch.

"She'd start cooking early in the morning because there were eight of us in the family," her daughter said.

Years ago, Mrs. McDonough became enamored with cooking meats over a charcoal grill, and thereafter, never again used a frying pan.

"It was during one of the blizzards in the early 1960s, and we were living on Walker Avenue then. She had us shovel off the back porch so she could charcoal steaks on her Weber kettle grill in the middle of the storm," her daughter said. "Nothing stopped her."

Mrs. McDonough enjoyed sipping carefully prepared Manhattan cocktails and also liked drinking hearty Italian red wines which she collected with her husband and stored in their basement wine cellar.

"She was the typical old school wife and mother who was never happier than when she had a huge crowd in for dinner. Anyone else would be a little nervous but she was totally laid back," said C. Barry Truax, a Baltimore advertising executive. "She had a great personality, was always smiling, and really enjoyed people."

Mrs. McDonough enjoyed working in her garden, which won several awards during the Original Northwood Annual Spring Garden Walk. She also joined her neighbors in protecting trees from the ravages of gypsy moths and vaccinating stately elms to protect them from Dutch elm disease.

She had been a competitive tennis player and also liked sewing, knitting and crocheting blankets and afghans. Since 2001, she had lived in Mays Chapel.

Mrs. McDonough was a communicant of St. Matthew Roman Catholic Church, 5401 Loch Raven Blvd., where a memorial Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

In addition to her husband and daughter, surviving are two sons, Timothy P. McDonough of Parkville and Thomas K. McDonough of Abingdon; three other daughters, Jeanne F. Oswald of Homeland, Jennifer L.M. Cummins of Joppa and Constance A. Staab of Cockeysville; her brother, Clement J. "Butch" Mainolfi Jr. of Havre de Grace; and 19 grandchildren.

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