Judith Mayer

So­cial worker was an ad­min­is­tra­tor and ad­vo­cate for girls who vol­un­teered with the Ban­ner Neigh­bor­hoods pro­gram

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - OBITUARIES - By Jac­ques Kelly

Judith Ann Buck­ner Mayer, a re­tired so­cial worker in Mary­land’s ju­ve­nile jus­tice sys­tem who was an ad­vo­cate for girls, died of mul­ti­ple myeloma Aug. 2 at Gilchrist Hos­pice Care in Tow­son. She was 78 and lived in Ot­ter­bein.

Born in St. Louis, Mis­souri, she was the daugh­ter of Ho­race De­For­est Buck­ner, a postal worker who was a spe­cial­ist in its dead let­ter de­part­ment, and his wife, Bessie Mae Pursell, a Fa­mous-Barr de­part­ment store chil­dren’s cloth­ing sales as­so­ci­ate.

When she was a young woman, oth­ers rec­og­nized her nat­u­ral abil­ity to or­ga­nize and get a task done. She worked her way through col­lege or­ga­niz­ing new chap­ters and strength­en­ing ex­ist­ing chap­ters of her soror­ity, Al­pha Delta Pi. She be­gan her stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Mis­souri and was re­quested by her soror­ity to start a new chap­ter at Get­tys­burg Col­lege in Penn­syl­va­nia, where she com­pleted her sopho­more year.

Through a friend, she met her fu­ture hus­band, Hans F. Mayer, who had heard of her at Get­tys­burg. Af­ter she moved to Col­lege Park, they met in front of her soror­ity house while she was earn­ing a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in English lit­er­a­ture at the Univer­sity of Mary­land.

Ms. Mayer joined the Mary­land De­part­ment of Ju­ve­nile Ser­vices and was a man­ager and overseer of sev­eral pro­grams. She re­ceived her mas­ter’s de­gree in so­cial work from the Univer­sity of Mary­land, Bal­ti­more in 1974.

She worked for 25 years in Mary­land’s ju­ve­nile jus­tice sys­tem. In Anne Arun­del County, she helped to re­cruit new fos­ter fam­i­lies to de­velop a pro­gram of stan­dard train­ing for them, ac­cord­ing to a bi­og­ra­phy her hus­band pre­pared.

She be­came a man­ager at the De­part­ment of Ju­ve­nile Ser­vices’ main of­fice in down­town Bal­ti­more and headed con­tract mon­i­tor­ing with statewide fa­cil­i­ties. She also re­vised her agency’s con­tract mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem fol­low­ing a crit­i­cal re­view by state au­di­tors.

Ms. Mayer chaired the Fe­male Pop­u­la­tion Task Force, which de­signed gen­der­spe­cific re­sources for girls within the ju­ve­nile ser­vices sys­tem. She led the re­design of a ju­ve­nile pro­gram at the Chel­tenham Youth Fa­cil­ity and opened its first all-fe­male shel­ter, her hus­band said.

“She felt strongly that the ju­ve­nile ser­vices sys­tem could do more for girls un­der its care,” said her hus­band. “She was dy­namic and liked get­ting things done. When she saw a need, she stepped in.”

Ms. Mayer was a found­ing mem­ber of the Na­tional Girls Cau­cus, an or­ga­ni­za­tion seek­ing bet­ter treat­ment and re­sources for girls in ju­ve­nile jus­tice sys­tems.

She also con­ducted pro­fes­sional work­shops at state, re­gional and na­tional gath­er­ings.

She heard about East Bal­ti­more’s Ban­ner Neigh­bor­hoods vol­un­teer read­ing pro­gram at Pat­ter­son Park, where her hus­band said she met two boys whose par­ents were dead.

“For more than a dozen years, she was tu­tor, men­tor, life coach and ad­vo­cate, with the help of oth­ers, to the fam­ily,” her hus­band said. “She worked along one to grad­u­ate from Mervo Tech and be­come a li­censed elec­tri­cian, and an­other is now an NFL foot­ball player. A sis­ter is work­ing on a mas­ter’s de­gree at Tow­son Univer­sity.”

She also worked within the sys­tem to have an older brother made the le­gal head of fam­ily so his younger sib­lings would not be sep­a­rated.

Ms. Mayer was in­volved in cam­paigns of po­lit­i­cal pro­gres­sives and marched in peace and jus­tice assem­blies. She also worked to cre­ate Cit­i­zens for In­ter­ra­cial Progress in Pumphrey in Anne Arun­del County. Over the years, she sup­ported cam­paigns for Mary­land House of Del­e­gates mem­ber Werner Fornos, Sen. Joseph Ty­d­ings, Robert Kennedy and Barack Obama.

Ms. Mayer was a mem­ber of the First Uni­tar­ian Church and chair of the Build­ings and Grounds Com­mit­tee for the the nearly 200-year-old land­mark at Charles and Franklin streets.

Mark West, a fel­low com­mit­tee mem­ber, said, “Judy was beau­ti­ful and el­e­gant and a force of na­ture. She spent her life in man­age­ment, and she brought those skills to First Uni­tar­ian. She un­der­took the ren­o­va­tion of the church hall. She took some­thing that looked like a bus sta­tion and made it into some­thing el­e­gant.

Mr. West also said, “She had the know-how to fo­cus and get a pro­ject done.”

She was an Ori­oles fan and had sea­son tick­ets to Mary­land foot­ball and bas­ket­ball. She also built a gar­den in her court­yard. She en­joyed danc­ing.

She and her hus­band vis­ited nu­mer­ous over­seas des­ti­na­tions. She was an avid ten­nis player at the Bare Hills club and was a ded­i­cated tai chi prac­ti­tioner. She kept up on cur­rent events and read widely. She was a donor to nu­mer­ous phi­lan­thropic causes.

In ad­di­tion to her hus­band of 55 years, the for­mer Mary­land act­ing sec­re­tary of eco­nomic and com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Mary­land Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Corp., sur­vivors in­clude a daugh­ter, Rachel My­gatt of Bal­ti­more; a son, Aaron Mayer, also of Bal­ti­more; and two grand­chil­dren.

Plans for a life cel­e­bra­tion the First Uni­tar­ian Church are pend­ing.

Judith Mayer was a found­ing mem­ber of the Na­tional Girls Cau­cus.

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