We celebrate the life of Mary Agnes Garmer, who passed from this realm on April 17, 2023.
Mary was the daughter of the late George DeSales McGann and Dorcas Elizabeth (Lashley) McGann.
Mary grew up in Mount Savage in the Allegany Mountains of Western Maryland, the
granddaughter of coalminers. She was the first in her mother’s family to graduate from high
school and college. She was in the first graduating class at Mount Savage High School and a
member of the Frostburg State Teachers College class of 1957. Mary paid her way through
college by working as an official scorekeeper for a baseball minor league association managed
by her father. She was paid $2 per game. Later in her life, while working and raising a family,
Mary received her Masters from Loyola College in Baltimore.
Mary met her husband Jack in Baltimore in the summer of 1959 in a convent parlor when the
two of them interviewed for the same job at St Martin’s High School. Jack was offered the job
because he was the male that applied. A few days before the school year began, Mary accepted
a last-minute opening for a different position at the same school. Jack then spent several
fruitless months trying to convince Mary to go out on a date with him. Initially Mary had no
interest, still bruised by the knowledge of Jack getting the job she had originally applied for. Her
roommate at the Catholic Daughters of America (CADOA) apartments convinced Mary to go on
a single date with Jack to get him “off her back.” Jack pulled out all the stops, including
borrowing money from his brothers, to take Mary to one of the best restaurants in town. In
later years Mary often told people that she knew Jack was the man she would marry by the end
of that first date. They married on Thanksgiving weekend in 1960 at her home parish, St
Patrick’s in Mount Savage, in the presence of family, friends, and many students. Mary and Jack
had twenty-seven wonderful years together until he died of cancer in 1987.
Mary’s love of sports grew out of those early scorekeeper days. She rooted for the Pittsburgh
Pirates with her dad, but became a diehard Orioles fan after moving to Baltimore. As the years
went on, she grew to enjoy and have a knowledge of many sports teams, including the
Baltimore Ravens. Her daily routine always included checking on news about her home teams.
Mary even made a bit of sports news herself, appearing in the Baltimore Sun in 1970 after
organizing a field trip to a Baltimore Orioles playoff game for the St Clements School. Sitting in a
ballpark with family or friends taking in the sights and sounds of a baseball game brought a
great deal of joy to Mary. If you were a sports fan, you were a friend of Mary’s.
Mary had a passion for the English language and was a master of proper grammar. She was in
her element teaching high school English and journalism, and being the moderator for the
school yearbook and newspaper. Mary also had a very creative mind. She enjoyed making
ceramics, crocheting blankets, making necklaces, and decorating for holidays. She especially
enjoyed creating things to give to others. Many a baby was wrapped in one of her blankets. She
also loved teaching others her craft skills. Mary spent many happy days crafting with her
granddaughters Shannon and Nicole. She loved helping others get in touch with their creative side. In her final months, she handed out necklaces that she had made to hospital staff who cared for her.
Family meant everything to Mary. She was proud of who her children became and was a doting
grandmother. Mary was an influencer in all of her children’s lives. She guided her younger son
George toward a career in pharmacy by finding him a job at a local pharmacy after the
restaurant where he had been working burned down. Mary introduced computers to Cardinal
Gibbons High School, a factor that led her older son Joe toward a career in IT. Finally, her
example of being an extraordinary teacher has been carried on by her younger daughter
Cecelia. And in keeping with the teaching tradition, Mary’s granddaughter Nicole is working
toward a degree in primary education. Mary’s organizational skills likely played some part in her
other granddaughter, Shannon, choosing a career as an accountant. Mary’s children brought
into the family by marriage, her daughter-in-law Talane and her son-in-law Craig, were as
precious to her as the children she brought into the world herself.
Mary started her teaching career at Old Town High School in Allegany County, Maryland. She
could still tell you the names of the students in that first class. Over the years she taught 6 th , 7 th
and 8 th grade at St Clements in Lansdowne and freshman English at Cardinal Gibbons HS in
Baltimore City. She finished her more than forty years in the Catholic educational system as
principal of St Clements and director of the parish daycare. Even in retirement Mary found ways
to do for others, planning bus trips and other activities for her fellow residents at Westminster
House Apartments in Baltimore, as well as working in her son George’s pharmacies.
Mary lived her life by the Golden Rule, always thinking of and doing for others. She remarked to
her son George in her final days, “I’ve spent my life waking up each morning wondering, who
will I help today?” She was a woman of deep faith and witnessed to her faith by the way she
lived. All the good that Mary showed others throughout her life was echoed in her last days
with her constant go-to phrases, “Thank you,” “I love you,” and “Oh that’s wonderful!” Mary
went above and beyond to make everyone she met feel welcomed and loved. She lived life as 1
Peter 3:8 states, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be
compassionate and humble.” She gave to others selflessly, never asking for anything in return.
In her final days, Mary talked often about her late husband, Jack. She lit up in reminiscence of
their time together. She was ready to be with him again, to see those brown eyes that she fell
in love with when she sat across that restaurant table from him. She knew that she would be
with him again soon, sharing eternity with him.
Mary is preceded in death by her husband John Edward “Jack” Garmer and daughter Mary
Frances Garmer. She is survived by her sister Lee Anna Gaughan, brothers Gerard and Gregory
McGann, her daughter Cecelia Garmer, her sons Joseph Garmer and George Garmer, her
daughter-in-law Talane Garmer, her son-in-law Dr. Craig Singer, and her granddaughters
Shannon and Nicole Garmer. She is also survived by many nieces, nephews and cousins, as well as countless students who were a source of pride to her as much as if they were her own
A mass of celebration in Baltimore will be held in June or July 2023. The exact date and location
have not been determined yet. In lieu of flowers, we kindly ask that you make a donation in
Mary’s name to your favorite children’s charity, the Baltimore Orioles Charitable Foundation,
the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, or to an LGBTQ+ charity of your choice.