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Dora Elder Paidakovich

Dora Elder Paidakovich, 85, who directed the St. John the Baptist 12:00 Folk Group from 1968 until her retirement in 1986, died March 10 of congestive heart failure at her home in Silver Spring, Md.

Mrs. Paidakovich played a pioneering role in the creation and direction of the first contemporary liturgical lay folk group in the Catholic archdiocese of Washington, a group whose surging popularity tripled church attendance in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. The group was also engaged in numerous volunteer performances and benefit concerts for nursing homes, hospitals and drug rehabilitation centers, and participated regularly in ecumenical events.

Dora Elder was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. and grew up in Emmitsburg, Md. She was the daughter of the late John DuBois Elder and Genevieve Spalding Elder, and a direct descendant of William Elder, one of the original settlers of Frederick County in 1736. William Elder originally named the area just south of Emmitsburg "St. Mary’s Mount," and after his death a parcel of his original property was donated by his family in 1808 for the founding of Mount St. Mary’s College, the nation’s second oldest Catholic college and seminary.

Dora Elder’s father, John DuBois Elder, was the owner and publisher of The Emmitsburg Chronicle, a prominent local weekly newspaper which remained in publication by the Elder family from 1922 until 1971. Mrs. Paidakovich, an avid writer and journalist, penned the Chronicle’s spirited showcase column, "Most Anything at a Glance" by Abigail, as well as weekly hard-news stories, from the 1930’s until her final column in 1971.

Mrs. Paidakovich graduated from St. Joseph’s College High School in 1935 and attended St. Joseph’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., from 1935 to 1937. A talented singer, she was a frequent featured performer on live big-band programs aired by local commercial radio station WFMD in Frederick, and other radio stations in Maryland and Pennsylvania during the 1930’s. She also toured locally with the popular Elder Brothers Orchestra. She belonged to several local drama clubs and appeared in numerous local plays, comedies and musicals.

In the early 1940’s, Mrs. Paidakovich moved to Washington, DC, and worked at the FBI in 1943. In 1952, she moved to Silver Spring and resided there until her death. She was active in the choirs of Holy Redeemer Church in Kensington, and St. Bernadette’s and St. John the Baptist in Silver Spring in the 1950’s and 1960’s, until assuming the directorship of the St. John the Baptist 12:00 Folk Group in 1968.

Mrs. Paidakovich was a devoted wife and mother who treasured her faith and her family. Her interests included cooking, bridge, crocheting, dancing and animals. Her husband of 45 years, Matt J. Paidakovich, died in 1990.

Survivors include a son, Matthew Elder Paidakovich of Herndon, Va.; two daughters, Lynn Ann Godfrey and Lisa Paidakovich Elder of Silver Spring, Md; two sisters, Genevieve R. Smith of Timonium, Md. and Yvonne Wiegand of Williamsport, Md.; and two grandsons, Michael J. Paidakovich of Reno, Nev. and Paul A. Godfrey of Rockville, Md. Also surviving are numerous relatives, including Art Elder of Emmitsburg, Md., Virginia Gay Hahn of Thurmont, Md., Dale Ann Norton of Frederick, Md. and David Elder of Fayetteville, Ga.

A Mass of Christian burial was held at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, N. Seton Ave., Emmitsburg, Md.,. on Friday, March 22, followed by interment at the New St. Joseph’s Cemetery. A Memorial Mass in celebration of Mrs. Paidakovich’s life was held at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church at 12319 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, Md., on Saturday, March 23 at 1:30 p.m., with a reception following. Memorial donations may be made to: Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children (CSAAC), 751 Twinbrook Pkwy., Rockville, Md. 20851, Attn: Peter Donaghe.

If you knew this individual, and would like to see them remembered in the next History of Emmitsburg, Please send us any stories or anecdotes about them to us at: history@emmitsburg.net

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