Maria Pica, 52, counselor active in political circles


Maria Pica, who worked in community service and was a member of a well-known Baltimore political family, died Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital of complications from leukemia. She was 52.

Ms. Pica was born in Baltimore's Govans neighborhood, where she lived for most of her life. She graduated in 1971 from the Institute of Notre Dame. She earned a bachelor's degree from Towson University in 1990.

Her father, who died in 2002, was John A. Pica Sr., a former Baltimore City councilman. Her brother, John A. Pica Jr., served in the state Senate.

"She was the real politician in the family," her brother said. "She just loved to be around people, and people loved to be around her. ... She was a typical soldier-type politician. She did all the work in the streets and in the ditches."

"She loved [politics'] potential to make things better for people," said Jack Kammer of Baltimore, to whom she was recently engaged.

Ms. Pica lived most of her life in the 21212 ZIP code, her brother said. "She was a Baltimore girl, through and through," said a close friend, Mary Chasney of Baltimore.

In the late 1970s, Ms. Pica and Ms. Chasney moved to Arizona for a year to teach at a small Roman Catholic school in the town of Winslow. Ms. Pica taught second grade; Ms. Chasney taught third.

After earning her degree from Towson, Ms. Pica worked for two years at Harbor Hospital as a community relations and development assistant. She recruited and supervised the hospital's community service volunteers and organized fundraising events.

In 1995, she went to work in the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention as a prevention program specialist, training teachers and students in community service, and directed the Governor's Youth Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission. She left there in 2003.

She later worked for a program called the Job Network based at the Community College of Baltimore County in Essex, helping those with little work experience to write resumes and present themselves to potential employers. Before she became too sick to continue, she was working at the Baltimore County Department of Corrections, helping inmates prepare for employment.

Ms. Pica was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention every four years from 1984 until 2004. She was president of the Belvedere Improvement Association in the 1990s. She served as a member of the Institute of Notre Dame's board of trustees and was chairwoman of its 150th anniversary celebration.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at St. Leo's Roman Catholic Church in Little Italy.

In addition to her brother and fiance, Ms. Pica is survived by two sons, Gregory Dean and Brice Dean, both of Baltimore. Her marriage to Douglas Dean ended in divorce.

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