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Resident Spotlight: Joe & Mary Catherine M.

Mr. and Mrs. Joe and Mary Catherine M., longtime Highlands Residents, are the quintessential Kensington Park couple: incredibly accomplished, kind, and most of all – loving. Born originally in a suburb of Philadelphia, Joe’s family moved to the Washington, DC area early in his life. His father was a chef and work brought the family to Chevy Chase. Mary Catherine was born in the second-most western County in Maryland, in a place called Midland. Her teaching career as a young woman was what brought her to the D.C. area.
Whether it was fate or kismet that brought the couple together, they certainly have a unique love story!

They met one fateful evening at an in-service class for educators. Joe, a teacher as well, had just started his first day on the job, and the principal assigned him to attend the class that very evening. Mary Catherine, on the other hand, was roped into going to the class by her sister who needed a ride! Joe took one look at Mary Catherine across the room and the attraction was instant. He says, “I’m not sure if it was love at first sight, but it certainly was attraction.” He tasked the class instructor (a woman not known for being overly friendly, and certainly not for being a matchmaker) with finding out the details about the mystery woman that he had his eye on. By the next session of the class, the instructor had found out Mary Catherine’s name, phone number, and that she was, indeed, single! Joe asked her out and they went on their first date. Mary Catherine remarks, “It was his car that won me over!” The car she is referring to was a beat up old jalopy that “looked like it had been through an A-bomb or been kicked by an elephant and couldn’t have cost more than $50.” They attended a $1 double-feature movie in a $50 car, and the rest is history.

Joe and Mary Catherine have over 75 years of combined teaching experience. Joe was an educator, including longtime guidance counselor at Einstein High School, for 55 years! Mary Catherine taught for 27 years then took on the important role of raising their 5 beautiful children: Anne, Clare, John, Jane, and Eleanor. They are also grandparents of 9 wonderful and capable young adults. The couple has lived by a motto of sorts; as Mary Catherine puts it, “We tend to stick with things, for better or for worse.” And that is certainly true of their beautiful 59-year marriage.

Joe has been active in many organizations over the years, leading several as president. His resume is certainly impressive; he served as the nation’s leading Catholic layman during the Year of the Family and was president of the National Association of College Admission Counseling, just to name a few. The many organizations that Joe was leading or active within brought the family on many wonderful vacations as they traveled from coast to coast for conferences and meetings. Despite all of his accolades, Joe treats everyone, from CEOs to housekeepers, with the utmost respect and kindness. In his own words, “My mom said to be kind, and my dad said to be honest.” Anyone who meets Joe and Mary Catherine will know that they certainly live those virtues every day. They are known in the Highlands for buying a cake and flowers for all the residents’ and staff members’ birthdays!

When asked if they have anything to share with the Kensington Park community, they said they would like to pass along the following: “We are very happy here! We like all of the people here; they are a great inspiration, and the staff are wonderful.”