Orioles PR director passes away at 36 (with Angelos & Buck statements)
The start of the Orioles spring season will be with a heavy heart as the organization lost a valiant member on Friday morning. After a courageous fight of more than four years, Orioles public relations director Monica Barlow passed away from Stage IV lung cancer, back home in Maryland.
“I tried to text her every night before I went to bed,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who addressed the team this morning and got choked up again talking about it. “Today was the first time I didn’t get a returned one.”
“We lost a feather from the Oriole today. Monica embodied everything we strive to be about. Her passion, loyalty, and tenacity set a great example for everyone in the organization. She was so courageous in continuing to do her job the last few years despite her pain. This is an especially tough day for those of us that worked with her on a daily basis. It was a blessing to have her in my life; she made our jobs so much easier. We won’t be able to replace Monica, we will only try to carry on. I am going to miss her as a colleague and a friend. She was a rock.”
Barlow, 36, was a non-smoker who was diagnosed in September 2009, while training for a half-marathon with a cough that wouldn’t go away. She continued to work throughout her battle, courageously becoming one of Major League Baseball’s biggest advocates for the “Stand Up 2 Cancer” initiative.
A longtime Orioles employee, Barlow graduated from William & Mary College in 1999 and served as an Oriole intern. She spent a year after as PR assistant for the Richmond Braves (formerly Atlanta’s Triple-A affiliate), before rejoining the Baltimore organization in January 2001, where she became PR director in April 2008.
The Ellicott City, Md resident is survived by her husband, Ben, along with both parents, her sister and brother.
Barlow was also a spokesperson for LUNGevity Foundation, the nation’s largest lung cancer-focused nonprofit. LUNGevity funds the most promising research for the early detection and successful treatment of lung cancer, and provides information, resources and a community to patients and caregivers. To learn more, go to: http://www.lungevity.org.
On a more personal note, Monica Barlow was one of the strongest people I have ever met. When I took the Orioles beat over in February 2010, she didn’t even seem sick to me. Here was this young woman who was in a male-dominated profession that was funny, courageous, and shied away from any kind of added attention. She never let her diagnosis prevent her from working long hours at Camden Yards or being a great friend, role model and human being.
Barlow fought every second of every day — never once did I hear her complain— and she had no use for sympathy. When my father had a heart transplant this May, she was more concerned with asking about him —which she did on a daily basis for months— than anything going on in her own life. She was a fighter and an inspiration, and she will will be missed dearly. Monica was never big on public shows — she was a very private person— but she touched so many people, and she will be greatly missed.
Here is the statement released by the team by managing partner Peter Angelos:
“It was with deep sadness that I learned of Monica’s passing this morning. In her 14 years with the club, she was a beloved member of the Orioles family, starting as an intern and becoming Director of Public Relations. Over the past four and a half years, the work Monica did to raise awareness and funds for cancer research was a testament to her dedication to helping others. The strength and resiliency she displayed by not letting her illness define her was a great inspiration to all who knew her. Her loss will be felt deeply by not only our front office staff, but also our manager, players and coaches, with whom she worked on a daily basis. On behalf of the club I extend my condolences to her husband, Ben; her parents, Wayne and Ramona Pence; her brother, Jonah; her sister, Natalie; and her family and friends.”