Melody A. Cronin, a Baltimore attorney who was known for her pro bono work with the Wills for Heroes Foundation, died Sunday of acute myelocytic leukemia at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
The Fells Point resident was 35.
"Mel was a quick-witted, intelligent attorney and she always worked long, long hours, even after she became a mother," said Kari M. Kelly, a colleague and real estate attorney at the Baltimore law firm of Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, where Mrs. Cronin worked as an associate in the firm's litigation and creditors' rights groups.
"She was one of the most loving, kind and sweet persons that I ever came across. She was the kind of person who always wanted to be the best friend ever," said Ms. Kelly.
The daughter of a business couple, Melody Anne Tagliaferri was born in Baltimore and raised in Rosedale and Timonium.
After graduating in 1996 from St. Paul's School for Girls in Brooklandville, Mrs. Cronin earned a bachelor's degree in vocal performance in 2000 from New York University.
"After college, she stayed in New York and worked as a waitress as she tried to break into the business as an actress," said Michael Francis "Benny" Cronin Jr., her husband of five years, who works in technology sales.
"She did commercials and even appeared in an episode of 'Sex and the City.' She then went to Los Angeles for a year and then decided to go into litigation. She knew she could use her acting skills in the courtroom," said Mr. Cronin.
"New York was always a big part of her life," said Ms. Kelly.
Mrs. Cronin returned to college and earned her law degree in 2007 from Yeshiva University's Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, where she was a staff writer on the Cardozo Public Law, Policy and Ethics Journal.
After completing a clerkship with Baltimore Circuit Judge Albert J. Matricciani Jr., Mrs. Cronin joined Rosenberg Martin Greenberg.
"What she brought to the firm in addition to her legal abilities was an incredible spirit in everything that she did, and this was enveloped in an infectious laugh," said Barry C. Greenberg, managing partner of the firm.
"Mel was a talented lawyer who was still learning her trade and had all of the tools that she would need to lead her to a very successful career," said Mr. Greenberg. "She was an incredibly genuine person and had lots of spirit. She was also very forceful in her view of things."
Mrs. Cronin was an active member of the Maryland State Bar Association's Young Lawyers Section and was honored in 2009 with their Distinguished Service Award for her work with the Wills for Heroes Foundation. The award is presented annually to a member who exemplifies dedication to pro bono work.
In 2010, she was presented the association's Alex Fee Award for Pro Bono Service. She was also an active member of the American Bar Association, District of Columbia Bar Association, Baltimore City Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association.
"Even after working a long week, Mel would attend Wills for Heroes events five or six times a year around the state that offered free services to police officers, firefighters and first responders," said Ms. Kelly.
In 2011, Mrs. Cronin was diagnosed with the leukemia that eventually took her life.
"It was a two-year battle, and after a bone marrow transplant she went into remission and this gave her a little more time," her husband said. "When she relapsed in October, she went around Hopkins thanking everyone who had tried to help her."
"Mel was a person who just lit up a room and she fought her illness valiantly and courageously," said Ms. Kelly. "And she never, ever felt sorry for herself."
Mrs. Cronin also participated in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk that funds therapies and better treatment for those suffering from blood cancers.
Mrs. Cronin enjoyed vacationing in Ocean City and powerboating with her husband on the Chesapeake Bay. She also liked singing and attending the theater.
"We met boating one day at Hart Miller Island. My father was friends with her uncle, and we tied up alongside each other," her husband said. "That's how I met this beautiful girl."
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in the chapel at St. Paul's School, 11152 Falls Road, Brooklandville.
In addition to her husband, Mrs. Cronin is survived by her 21/2 –year-old son Luca Tag Cronin; her father, Phillip Tagliaferri of Monkton; her mother, Karen Panella of Timonium; her stepfather, Alberto Panella of Timonium; her stepmother, Nancy Tagliaferri of Monkton; and a brother, Rico Tagliaferri of Brooklyn, N.Y.