Maureen Anne Donohue, the director of women's ministries at Grace Fellowship Church, died of ovarian cancer Tuesday at her Hunt Valley home. She was 65.
Born Maureen Anne Deeney in Teaneck, N.J., she attended the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, where she earned an English degree in 1964. She taught at Dulaney High School in Timonium for a year. After her 1965 marriage to James Michael Donohue Jr., a certified public accountant, they raised a family of four.
"She had the ability to affirm people," said former Baltimore Colts defensive tackle Joe Ehrmann, a preaching pastor at her church. "She was the model of womanhood - compassionate and sensitive - and a fabulous wife and mother."
About two decades ago - after years as a Roman Catholic - she joined Grace Fellowship Church, an independent evangelical congregation of 4,500 members. With no formal seminary education, she soon began teaching Bible studies.
In the past 15 years, she spoke on evangelical topics at missionary gatherings and to women's groups in Indonesia, Ireland, Mexico and in the United States. "Her impact at Grace was impossible to overstate," said Jason Poling, a former colleague who is pastor of New Home Community Church in Pikesville. "She was a wonderful person, with a wicked sense of humor and an irrepressible grin. She loved the life she was living. Her joy was contagious."
Erich Becker, the director of marriage and family ministry at her church, recalled yesterday that Mrs. Donohue was an excellent teacher.
"She was a tremendous verbal communicator," he said. "You immediately wanted to put into practice what you had heard from her."
Mrs. Donohue led a weekly daytime women's Bible class with an enrollment of 250. She also directed three night classes weekly.
"She helped people face issues, and her teaching style was conversational and authentic," said Danny O'Brien, the church's senior pastor. "She could be speaking to 500 people, but you had the sense of sitting across from her at a Starbucks table."
He said that Mrs. Donohue was largely self-taught.
"She could uncomplicate the complicated," said her husband. "She was a lifetime learner. She read three or four hours a day. She was patient and very thorough."
She also enjoyed tennis, swimming, bicycling and sailing. Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Grace Fellowship Church, 9505 Deereco Road, Timonium.
In addition to her husband, survivors include three sons, Brian Donohue of Nogales, Ariz., James Michael Donohue III and Timothy Donohue, both of Towson; a daughter, Megan Saunders of Towson; a brother, John Deeney of Fairfax, Va.; a sister, Ellen Thorsland of Allendale, N.J.; and 10 grandchildren.