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Halfway couple enriched by volunteer efforts

Mary Barbara and Aubrey Dagliano have thrown themselves into community

November 03, 2011|By JANET HEIM | janeth@herald-mail.com
  • Mary Barbara and Aubrey Dagliano are longtime volunteers who both recently celebrated their 80th birthdays.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

HALFWAY — Mary Barbara "Mary B" and Aubrey Dagliano aren't Washington County natives, but they've lived here since August 1969 and consider it home.

The Daglianos have lived in their Woodmoor development home in Halfway for 42 years.

They've thrown themselves into the community, choosing a variety of volunteer efforts that benefit others, but also fit their interests. They figure they've been volunteering for 50 of their 60 years of marriage.

"We just enjoy being around people," Mary B said.

The Daglianos, both 81, started their community service while living in Richmond, Va.

After their two sons were born, the couple became foster parents.

In six years as foster parents, they counted 125 foster children who stayed with them, some only for hours, others for much longer.  

"When we look back, that was productive as far as giving back to the community," Aubrey said.

They have five granddaughters and five great-grandchildren.

They joke that Aubrey's Italian heritage and Mary B's Irish lineage make for an interesting combination.

"We haven't had an argument today," jokes Mary B. "It's usually just differences of opinions of things."

They volunteer for some of the same organizations — The Maryland Theatre, Meritus Medical Center, the John Marsh Cancer Center, Hospice of Washington County, the Washington County Senior Center and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, tutoring at Lincolnshire and Paramount Elementary schools and their church, St. Joseph Catholic Church in Hagerstown. At home they work in different areas.

"Too much togetherness is not good," Mary B said.

During his time at The Maryland Theatre, Aubrey started in the concession stand, then became the volunteer coordinator.

"The theater was one of my favorites, because I met so many people," Aubrey said.

He said he was eating dinner in one of the dressing rooms when Tom Jones came in before a performance and stayed to chat.

"Volunteering to me is just such an easy thing to do, especially if it's something you enjoy doing," Mary B said.

The two met on a blind date arranged by Mary B's mother, who was a regular customer at the "mom and pop Italian restaurant" that Aubrey's parents owned. Aubrey waited on tables there.

Aubrey's girlfriend had "ditched" him, leaving him with two tickets to a dinner dance. He asked Mary B and she agreed to be his date.

"That blind date worked out nicely, because he was a good dancer," Mary B said.

The Daglianos moved to Hagerstown with a job transfer for Aubrey. Before he retired in 1988, he was manager of Wesco, a subsidiary of Westinghouse.

Mary B worked for Harper & Row Publishers for more than 10 years, then spent a decade at the U.S. Census Bureau.

After years volunteering at Washington County Hospital, then Meritus Medical Center, Aubrey in April found himself a patient for the first time, suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

He now relies on oxygen, which has meant curtailing much of his volunteer work, although he still maintains a positive attitude.

"None of us will ever be rich in life money-wise, but we're rich in our lives. We've had a good life. Whatever we've done, we've enjoyed it," Aubrey said.

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