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Mary Elizabeth Cahill
(11-12-1926 - 05-18-2014)

Mary Cahill, a longtime resident of Reston, Va., died May 18 at her home in Oro Valley, Ariz., after a long illness. She was 87. In Virginia, Mrs. Cahill worked to elect liberal Democrats in the tumultuous days before and after Watergate. She served on the Democratic State Central Committee and was a past chair of the Hunter Mill district in the course of political activism that spanned more than three decades in Fairfax County. She was an enthusiastic backer of such liberal lions as former Virginia Lt. Gov. Henry Howell and George C. Rawlings Jr. Mrs. Cahill helped organize the 10th district congressional campaign of former U.S. Rep. Joe Fisher, who unseated 20-year incumbent Joel Broyhill in 1974. She also served on the staff of former State Sen. Charles Waddell, and worked as a lobbyist in Fairfax County when the Board of Supervisors was debating the merits of the county’s first cable TV franchise. In Reston, Mrs. Cahill made frequent Election Night appearances on community television. She also was a founding member of the Reston Catholic Community, the town’s first Catholic parish, which became St. Thomas a Becket. Early in her career, she taught Head Start classes in local schools and was active in the League of Women Voters. Mrs. Cahill earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Marquette University, and joined the Marquette faculty as an English professor after teaching a year of high school in Geneseo, Ill. She taught at the university until the birth of her son, Joseph, who survives her, as does her husband, Jerry. Both son and husband are journalists. Other survivors include daughter-in-law Cathy, granddaughters Sarah and Katie, and numerous nieces and nephews. The war in Vietnam launched Mrs. Cahill’s career as a political activist. An ardent opponent of U.S. involvement in the war, she supported Sen. Eugene McCarthy in his campaign to defeat Lyndon Johnson in 1968. For a while, she worked in McCarthy’s office on Capitol Hill. Mary Cahill was born in Oak Park, Ill. and raised on Chicago’s South Side. Her father, Philip C. Griffin, was a banker and Dartmouth graduate. When the bank closed during the depression, he founded the Chicago Awning Co. As a high schooler, Mrs. Cahill helped him compile the business tax returns, often passing up school dances to help meet tax deadlines. Memorial mass will be held at 10:00 AM on Tuesday May 27, 2014 at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 408 Cedar Ave., St. Charles, IL 60174. Interment will be at Resurrection Cemetery, Geneva, IL. For information 847-741-8800 or lairdfamilyfuneralserevices.com

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