Mary Louise (Mary Lou) McHugh, a long-time Baltimore resident, passed away on July 29, 2020 at her home in Bothell, Washington, as a result of complications from cancer. She was 72. A memorial mass for friends and family in the Baltimore area was held on September 10th at St. Joseph Parish in Cockeysville, Maryland.
Mary Lou was born to Pearl and Robert Dicks in Trenton, Michigan on November 2, 1947, the youngest of three. She grew up outside of Detroit along with her two older brothers: Gary and Tom. At the age of 10, her father purchased a laundry business in Port Arthur, Texas and the family relocated to nearby Beaumont. She graduated from Beaumont’s Archbishop Kelly High School in 1965.
Mary Lou returned to Michigan—where she still had many friends and relatives— enrolling in Michigan State University. In college, she was initiated into the XΩ sorority. She graduated from MSU in 1969 with a degree in Textiles and Clothing.
After graduation, Mary Lou moved to Washington D.C., sharing a house with her sorority sisters from college and working as a management trainee at Woodward & Lothrop department stores. She met her husband, Dan McHugh, on a blind date in early 1970. The couple married in 1972 and moved to D.C.’s Tenleytown neighborhood.
Mary Lou decided to make a career change in 1973, enrolling in graduate school at the University of Maryland where she earned her teaching credentials. She worked as a Special Education teacher at Bladensburg High School in Prince Georges County until the birth of their only child, John, in 1980. Later that year, the family moved to the Guilford neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland where the family made many close friends, including the Woloszyns. Mary Lou especially enjoyed cheering on John and his friends at Boys’ Latin football and lacrosse games.
While taking time away from teaching to raise John, Mary Lou tended to her side business, The Leaf Leasing Company, which provided interior plant leasing and horticultural services for clients such as McDonald’s corporate offices in Fairfax, Virginia, and Paine Webber in Baltimore. She would continue to provide services to her Leaf Leasing clients on-and-off over the next 30 years.
Mary Lou eventually returned to educational work as a teacher for emotionally troubled students at Good Shepherd in Halethorpe and subsequently Woodbourne School in Baltimore before returning to Good Shepherd. In 1994 Mary Lou joined Kenwood High School in Essex as a teacher/administrator for students with special needs before moving to Holabird Middle School in Dundalk several years later. She then transferred to Overlea High School, initially serving as the school’s Special Education Chairperson, then as the IEP Chairperson. A devout Catholic, Mary Lou also volunteered as a teacher in Cathedral Mary Our Queen’s Sunday School of Religion for several years. In 2006, Mary Lou and Dan amicably divorced after 33 years of marriage and she moved from Guilford to Charles Village.
After over 20 years of service in the Baltimore County Public School system, Mary Lou retired in 2016. Upon retiring, Mary Lou indulged her desire to travel and her love of art, visiting Italy, Spain, and France, as well as visiting family and friends around the United States. She especially loved traveling to spend holidays with John and his family. When at home, Mary Lou formed a community of friends at the YMCA water aerobics class, including “Murf” Rosenbaum, whom she reconnected with years earlier while convalescing from a broken hip. In 2017, she moved to Timonium and, after dealing with several health complications, eventually moved to Bothell, Washington in October, 2019 to be closer to her son’s family in Seattle. She relished spending time with her grandsons, who called her “Granny.” Mary Lou was an excellent Play-Doh sculptor and exceedingly patient in getting her picky grandsons to eat. A small glass of Bailey’s, the occasional margarita, or a single Stella Artois were her greatest vice.
Mary Lou is survived by her brothers Gary, and his wife Kyoko Dicks (of Shelbyville, Kentucky), Tom, and his wife Carol Dicks (of Raymore, Missouri); her son, John, and his wife, Jessica; her two grandchildren, Zane, and Niall; as well as many cousins, nieces, nephews, friends, sorority sisters, and former co-workers who miss her greatly.
In her own words, she died grateful: “a happy woman” who was “so lucky.” A burial service will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Mary Lou’s name be made to