Dorothy 'Gingie' Baranauskas, researcher at Aberdeen Proving Ground and children's advocate, dies

May 25—Dorothy Cecilia "Gingie" Baranauskas, an advocate for children with special needs, died of cancer May 10 at Gilchrist Hospice Columbia. The Mount Washington and Westminster resident was 89.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, she was the daughter of Clarence Mayott, an insurance salesman and his wife, Dorothy, who ran the family home.

They moved to Baltimore and settled in Govans and later Dundalk. She was a graduate of the old Seton High School on North Charles Street.

She met her future husband, Joseph Casimir Baranauskas at a dance while he was a student at Calvert Hall College High School in Towson. They married in 1957.

Mrs. Baranauskas wanted to become a department store window decorator but when she applied, she was told by Hutzler and Hecht store managers that only men could handle that task.

She then became a researcher in classified military matters at the Aberdeen Proving Ground.

She raised her family in Mount Washington on Chilham Road. After the birth of her son, Peter Baranauskas, she became an advocate for the education of children with special needs.

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"My brother was sent to Mount Washington Elementary School and was told by his teachers that 'he wasn't like other kids,'" said Bridget Baranauskas Pettebone, her daughter.

"My parents feared that Peter might be taken away from them and sent to Rosewood State Hospital. These children like my brother were just hidden away at that time," her daughter said. "Peter was diagnosed with a rare chromosome condition."

Mrs. Baranauskas enrolled him at the old St. Francis School on Maryland Avenue and the Chimes School on Thornbury Road.

"My mother taught Peter skills on her own. She believed in teaching and education. She was able to get him to walk to the light rail station in Mount Washington and he on his own rode trains to the end of the line in Hunt Valley. He was then picked up and worked for many years at Graul's Market in Hereford."

Her daughter described Mrs. Baranauskas as a "champion, proponent, advocate and warrior for the community of disabled children."

"She decided that the doctors did not understand their needs or even value these children in that era," her daughter said.

Mrs. Baranauskas lobbied legislators to have laws changed to support education and integration into society of the special needs population.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Mrs. Baranauskas worked to help individuals obtain transportation to schools and educational opportunities.

She held fundraisers to raise awareness and communicated with members of the Baltimore City Council and then Mayor William Donald Schaefer, who attended her spaghetti dinners at St. Elizabeth School, a nonpublic, co-educational school for students with disabilities in Northeast Baltimore.

She was also a Eucharistic minister at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Mount Washington and visited sick and elderly parish members. She later ran the Wisdom Club at St. John Roman Catholic Church in Westminster.

A Sinai Hospital volunteer, each Christmas she adopted a needy family and provided a meal and presents. She worked through an organization, By Their Side, for disabled children whose parents were deceased.

Survivors include three daughters, Catherine Prigg, of Severna Park, Joanna Baranauskas, of Sykesville, and Bridget Baranauskas Pettebone, of Baltimore; two sons, Joseph Baranauskas, of Reisterstown, and Peter Baranauskas, of Baltimore; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Her husband, Joseph Baranauskas, a Maryland Department of Transportation accountant, died in 2019.

A Mass was held May 18 at St. Rita Roman Catholic Church in Dundalk.