Mary C. Maffezzoli, a retired social worker and former administrator at St. Vincent's Center in Timonium, where she worked diligently trying to make better lives for the abused and neglected children who lived there, died of pancreatic cancer Friday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. She was 64.
The former Mary Concetta Cellini was born and raised in Trenton, N.J. While she attended the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, where she earned a bachelor's degree in history in 1964, her future husband, Dr. Richard D. Maffezzoli, was an undergraduate at the Johns Hopkins University.
FOR THE RECORD - An obituary published in Tuesday's editions of The Sun for Mary Concetta Maffezzoli incorrectly stated her maiden name. She was the former Mary Concetta Felcone.
"I guess you could say we were childhood sweethearts. We were 8 years old when we first met," said Dr. Maffezzoli, a Baltimore endocrinologist and internist, who earned his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. They married in 1964.
After the couple's second son was born, Mrs. Maffezzoli returned to college and earned her master's degree in social work in 1973 from the University of Maryland School of Social Work.
Mrs. Maffezzoli worked in foster care for the Baltimore Department of Social Services before joining Catholic Charities in its school counseling and outpatient services program.
From 1981 to 1988, she was director of social work and clinical services at Villa Maria Orphanage in Timonium, until being named assistant administrator at St. Vincent's Center, also in Timonium.
She was promoted to administrator at St. Vincent's in 1994, a position she held until retiring in 2000.
During her tenure there, Mrs. Maffezzoli helped transform the center into a clinical residential treatment center that offered high-quality professional clinical services to children and families.
She also worked closely with the Ed Block Courage Awards Foundation and was involved in Illuminations, a program that uses artwork to raise awareness about the effects of abuse on children.
Mrs. Maffezzoli also helped found Chara House, a Northwest Baltimore foster home for infants and toddlers who are infected with HIV, medically fragile or developmentally challenged.
"We live in a society where violence toward children has become an epidemic," she told The Sun in 1995.
"One out of every three girls is sexually abused before she reaches 18. One out of 11 boys is sexually abused. One of every 10 children will be beaten badly enough during the course of his or her first 16 years to require medical help," she said.
"It means, for one thing, that the chances of a girl being abused are greater than her chances of going to college. For a boy, it means he's more likely to be abused than to play a varsity sport in high school," Mrs. Maffezzoli said. "Child abuse knows no bounds, not socioeconomic, not religion, not race."
"She really had a passion for children and families in need and issues about abuse and neglect," said Mike Dunphy, director of residential and clinical services at St. Vincent's.
"She was instrumental in making it a more sophisticated clinical treatment center and helping chart that course that better helped the kids," he said.
The Rev. Ray Chase, former director of spiritual development at the center, recalled her humanity.
"It always shown through. She always had a smile and such compassion for these broken and painful children and how they could be healed," Father Chase said.
"She was a very strong believer in family and worked hard to safely return a child to their family. And if that wasn't possible, she worked with various agencies to find adoptive families," said Joan C. Dier, former clinical supervisor at St. Vincent's.
Mrs. Maffezzoli was very popular with both staff and the children. The door to her office was always open, and there were plenty of stuffed animals to keep nervous children occupied.
"She was a tough boss and a good leader, and you always knew where you stood with her. However, she was always willing to listen to your point of view, and it was interesting how she could switch from being a boss to talking with the kids," said Frances R. Butcher, former human relations manager at the center and a longtime friend.
"I remember one time she was talking to a little girl who came from a horrific situation. As she walked the girl to her cottage, she asked Mary, `Will people beat me, and will Santa Claus know how to find me?'" Ms. Butcher said. "She answered, `No one is beaten, and Santa Claus always finds the children at St. Vincent's.'"
After retiring, Mrs. Maffezzoli worked part time for CASA of Baltimore County Inc., a program that supplies court-appointed special advocates and mentors to abused and neglected children. She also worked with a Maryland state program dealing with termination of parental rights.
She was on the board of directors at Notre Dame Preparatory School and New Pathways Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides counseling, independent living and development opportunities for youth emerging from foster care systems.
Mrs. Maffezzoli enjoyed travel, cooking and entertaining. She was an avid reader and active member of the Wild Women Book Club.
"Her real hobby was collecting children," Dr. Maffezzoli said.
She was an active communicant of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Roman Catholic Church in Timonium.
A funeral Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Carmelite Chapel, 1318 Dulaney Valley Road, Timonium.
Also surviving are two sons, James A. Maffezzoli of New York City and Richard J. Maffezzoli of Towson; and six grandchildren.