Sister Mary Lanahan, 73

Teacher, tutor

May 29, 2007

Sister Mary Lanahan, who helped a financially foundering girls' preparatory school get onto solid ground by renting out its Great Hall for weddings and receptions, died of congestive heart failure Wednesday at Peninsula Medical Center in Salisbury. She was 73.

Born and raised in Darby, Pa., she joined the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur when she was 18. Her ministry was her work with children, first as a teacher and later as a volunteer in various community groups on the Eastern Shore, earning her the nickname "Mary-by-the-Sea."

Sister Mary began her teaching career at Maryvale Preparatory School in Brooklandville in 1954. She spent 22 years there, then taught at schools in Staten Island, N.Y., Huntingdon Valley, Pa., and Ellicott City. She returned to Maryvale in 1976 as plant manager.

The school was struggling financially and needed income beyond tuition. Sister Mary developed plans to rent out the school's chapel and Great Hall for weddings and receptions, even helping families arrange for caterers. The Tudor-style buildings became a popular setting for events; the location was featured in the 1997 Clint Eastwood film Absolute Power.

"She was very down-to-earth, and very gutsy," said Sister Edithann Kane, a member of the order who had known Sister Mary since the 1970s. "She had a big heart and just wanted to do anything for anybody."

When she retired from Maryvale in 1997, Sister Mary moved to Ocean City. In retirement, she tutored children on the Eastern Shore who were struggling in school, gave piano lessons to children and adults, and served on the board of the Julie Community Center, a small nonprofit community organization in Southeast Baltimore.

Sister Mary donated her body to the Maryland Anatomy Board.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 10:30 a.m. June 22 at St. Luke Roman Catholic Church in Ocean City, and at a time to be set on June 23 at her order's retirement home, Villa Julie, at 1531 Greenspring Valley Road.

She is survived by three brothers, James Lanahan of North East, Pa., Joseph Lanahan of Kennedyville and Richard Lanahan of Highland Village, Texas.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.