Virginia P. Flaherty dies at age 81

Baltimore Sun editor and political activist

August 22, 2010|By Kate Smith, The Baltimore Sun

Virginia P. Flaherty, a former Baltimore Sun editor and political activist, died Tuesday of lung cancer at her home in Daisy, Howard County. She was 81.

Mrs. Flaherty, the daughter of a Container Corp. of America executive and a registered nurse, was born in Philadelphia.

After graduating from Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, Pa., she majored in English and French at the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated with high honors in 1952.

Mrs. Flaherty's godfather, Fred Nelson, a well-known conservative editorial writer for The Sun, was a large presence and influence in her life after her parents' divorce, prompting her to later work for The Sun as well.

After college, Mrs. Flaherty worked for two magazines, Etude and Ladies' Home Journal, until she joined The Sun in 1954. There, she was editor of The Sun's woman's and features page and met her husband, Hugh E. Flaherty, a Sun reporter.

After their marriage in 1959, Mrs. Flaherty left the newspaper to raise her children but remained busy helping her husband work on the campaign of Gov. Raymond P. Shafer in Pennsylvania. After he won the election in 1967, Mrs. Flaherty worked closely to establish the New Day School in Harrisburg for learning-disabled students and to pass legislation in Pennsylvania that would support learning-disabled students within the public school systems.

Though she disliked change, according to her husband, Mrs. Flaherty moved all along the East Coast. They lived in 17 homes during the first 30 years of their marriage, from Tarrytown, N.Y., to Pittsburgh to Charlotte, N.C.

"We've been living in our current home for 19 years, and she was very happy about that," Mr. Flaherty said.

Mrs. Flaherty's hobbies included genealogy, and she was planning to write a book on her family lines. She was also a Celtic music enthusiast and acquired an extensive collection of recordings during her life.

Services are private.

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Flaherty is survived by three sons, David Flaherty and Christopher Flaherty, both of Woodbine, and Brendan Flaherty of Sykesville; seven grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

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