Honoring the legacy of our Co-Founder Mae
We are saddened to share that Mae Ashley Abraham, one of our co-founders, passed away on August 23, 2019. Mae died peacefully at her home and in the presence of family and loved ones. She was 92.
Mae and Father Joseph Martin, a Catholic priest, co-founded Ashley Addiction Treatment—formerly Father Martin’s Ashley—in 1983. The two recovering alcoholics met at one of Father Martin’s award-winning “Chalk Talks” at Johns Hopkins University in 1964. Fr. Martin was widely regarded as a pioneer of addiction treatment, and together they developed an innovative approach to healing based on treating patients with dignity and compassion.
In 1976, Mae suggested Fr. Martin open a center for the treatment of alcoholics and addicts, modeled on Father Martin’s own experience at the Guest House, a treatment facility for priests. After several years of fundraising, Father Martin and Mae were able to acquire the former estate of Sen. Millard Tydings in Havre de Grace, Maryland – and Mae’s idea became a reality.
“We opened on Monday, Jan. 17, 1983, a very cold day; but Noble Hall glowed with warmth,” said Fr. Martin. “That feeling of warmth, comfort, and security wasn’t coming from the new—and very expensive—heating system, however. It was coming directly from Mae Abraham and everyone knew it.”
Because of Mae’s and Father Martin’s grit, determination and vision, over 45,000 patients and their families have experienced the miracle of recovery. Her legacy of hope and healing will live on here and within all of us.
Ashley lost its co-founder, Mae Abraham, today. But we will never lose Mae’s spirit. Nor will we ever lose the determination and grit that she brought, along with Father Martin, to realize their shared vision to establish a treatment center grounded in the principle that every patient is deserving of being treated with dignity and respect. We will greatly miss Mae, but we are proud to carry on Mae’s and Father Martin’s legacy of caring and compassion for the sick alcoholic and addict.
— Jim Denvir, Chair of the Board of Directors at Ashley
Mae Ashley Abraham took a dream that she and Father Martin shared and made that dream a reality. She took that dream from the incubator, raised it through childhood, adolescence and adulthood, thus creating the miracle of what we now call Ashley Addiction Treatment. It is because of Mae, over 45,000 patients and their families have experienced that miracle.
— Dave Nassef, President & CEO at Ashley
I will cherish all the memories of my conversations with Mae. She is such a special person, not just in my eyes but in God’s eyes. I wish her and everyone at Ashley peace.
— Virginia McCaskey, Owner of the Chicago Bears; Long-time friend of Mae and benefactor of Ashley
I met Mae in 1977 when she and Father were working on films with my soon to be husband, Jack Fahey. We quickly became confidants that would continue throughout the years. I consider Mae to be the First Lady, not just of Ashley, but of our incredible field. She embraces the epitome of the promises of recovery — grace, honesty, humility. There is no stronger advocate for healing and recovery of the addicted and their family. I will always be grateful for how she and Father embraced me and my work with children when I was so young, and cherish the many intimate conversations we have had. As I shared with her recently, I am blessed to have shared this journey.
— Claudia Black, Ph.D., renowned educator and treatment specialist
Ashley is a truly special place. It has a rich legacy of hope and healing. Over the past 36 years, it’s provided lifesaving care to tens of thousands of people, and continues to be regarded as one of the best facilities in the nation. Father Martin was a renowned educator and is often thought of as the face of Ashley, but Mae was as instrumental in its founding and played an equally large role in shaping Ashley and the overall treatment field. I am one of the many Ashley alumni who has benefited from her legacy of service. While I mourn her passing, I am heartened knowing that her contributions will live on at Ashley.
— Patrick J. Kennedy, Former Congressman; Founder, The Kennedy Forum
Mae Abraham helped us all understand that our lives truly mattered. She could light up a room with her smile. I will miss you, Mae.
— Lynda Carter, Actress; Alumnae; Former Ashley Board Member
I’ve been blessed and honored to call Mae a dear friend for decades. Mae and Father Martin were always so supportive and helpful with my sobriety; and whenever I’d reach out after all these years, they always made time for me, and had the answers and advice I needed. Mae has lived a beautiful life of great service and love to Ashley and thousands of patients, friends, and souls in need, that have been connected with her and Father Martin along the way. I, along with so many, will deeply miss her and forever be grateful for her kindness and friendship all these precious years we’ve been blessed to have her with us. My kind friend Mae, Rest In Peace, sing a song and have a dance with Father Martin and your friends in Heaven, where I know you are.
— Love and respect, Nils Lofgren, musician and member of the E Street Band; Ashley alumnus
To say that Mae Abraham was part and parcel of saving my career, and probably prolonging my life, would be understating the role that she and Ashley had in my life. I am, and will forever be, grateful to her & the staff for their kindness and successful program. They truly have been the blessing I needed and received in my life and career. May the God who made us all keep her in our lives.
— Johnny Mathis, singer and alumnus
Share your favorite memory of Mae on social with the #RememberingMae!