Mary Louisa Histon Shultz

Mary Louisa Histon was born in Washington DC, on July 11 1931 and died at home in Potomac Maryland on July 1, 2004.

She became a licensed Substance Abuse Counselor in 1980. She created and directed alcoholic and drug treatment programs at Springwood Hospital in Leesburg Va., and for Montgomery County at Maplewood. She was in private practice from 1984 - 2003, wheie she conducted chemical dependency groups for more than a 1000 patients including providing "after care" for patients released from treatment centers, Montgomery County Pre-Release Center and CARP inmates.


I am writing this in the hope that Rico or someone will read this to Louisa’s family and friends. It is to my great disappointment that I am unable to attend the funeral of one of my dearest and closest friends. I write as the voice of many with similar stories of Louisa; certainly more than I can count.

I first met Louisa when she was my counselor in rehab in 1981. She must have drawn the short straw that day* This was my very first exposure to recovery and too sick to hear much of what she said; but I could tell that with her, there was someone who cared. She’d always stayed in touch with me, and I with her. Two years later when I had hit a bottom lower than I had ever imagined, completely indigent and a homeless bum, I picked up the payphone at 13th and W Streets and dialed 299-8184 (THOSE were the days BEFORE you had to dial the area code!). Louisa helped me get off the streets, found me a free bed in that same hospital, Springwood. ..and supported my efforts when everyone else had given up. I was there for 58 days, under her watchful eye, the recipient of her professional care and some of the toughest love I’d ever imagined. For that alone, I owe her my life!

She told me I wasn’t a bad person, just a ‘sick’ person who needed to get better. Over the years, Louisa and her family became my family; long before I could grow one of my own. I was at the Shultz home for all the holidays, especially on Mother’s Day.. eating and sharing in the joy and love that always surrounded Louisa . .. .a party atmosphere . .even a little screaming and fighting sometimes. ..never a dull moment . . .and certainly entertaining always! But the warmth and welcome atmosphere was never absent in her home . .and I really felt a part of the entire family. As in early recovery, we are really ‘babies’, Louisa had become ‘Mama Louisa’ to me over the years.. (even though she would lie and tell you she wasn’t old enough to be my mother) . . . . . Her house: her mother there for a time (trying to hustle me at blackjack) and Dick, John, Ricky, Pollywackit and always a passel of kids. ..Everyone at their house became my extended family. ..and ALWAYS . .someone in need occupying the extra bedroom downstairs. Her house, or ‘grand central’, was a rehab, a restaurant, a party, a home-away-from-home, a half-way house and always full of the love and support of Louisa’s entire family. I can’t imagine how Dick managed with us junkies, theives, hookers and just garden-variety criminals hanging about all the time. But that was Louisa’s home!

Louisa had found a way to show me the unconditional love that I’d had little experience with until then. It was the message she carried. .although the words weren’t always the way I wanted to hear them! Louisa’s words didn’t always come in the sweetest or kindest way you’d expect from a suburban housewife, let me tell you, but they always got her point across. She carried a message of recovery . .to all who needed to hear. I wish I could repeat some of her expressions here, but . . .…… As Louisa would remind me: "you can take the girl out of the street, but you can’t take the street out of the girl". Yes, Louisa had quite a mouth on her! And wasn’t shy about using it! That was Louisa!

I had the privilege and good fortune to be in many of Louisa’s groups. I mention this because I always said that this was one of her greatest gifts. As crazy as things could get in dealing with us, the kind of characters we were, (or are), once her group started, she changed. This was a transformation kindrid to a great athlete, like Mohammed Ali stepping into the ring . ..All of a sudden, she looked different, spoke differently, acted differently and was capable of delivering therapy like I’ve never seen since. Louisa could become your mother, husband, brother or wife at the drop of a hat. Not just because she was a great actress (as we know, Louisa did love a little drama*), but this was beyond acting. She was there for the clients, 100% always, and seemed to know EXACTLY what they needed. No, this was beyond therapy, this was her gift. She was a channel. I believe that Louisa knew instinctively how to deal with her clients’ pain . .and much better than she could ever deal with her own. After witnessing some of these incredible experiences, I’d ask her "where did that come from" . . . .she would always reply: "I have no idea". I say this to the family, because unless they were in those groups, there’s no way that they could know what kind of miracles she could deliver. Many of us were so lucky to be in those groups . .and so lucky that Louisa’s family was willing support this, building a ‘group room’ onto their home so we could continue our groups after Dr. Joe’s office closed. Thanks Dick!

The death of one's close friend like Louisa is the severing of the closest of ties. It is such a profound sundering that even now, I feel a loss as when I lost my very own mother. In many ways, Louisa parented as my mother would have, had she been able to. She gave unquestioning love and constant concern for the child's well-being. How characteristic that was, how typical of a mother and all mothers for their children. I know many of us that she parented in that way. You have taught us so much. Thank God for you Louisa.

I know that Louisa did not want people to grieve for her, but I cannot promise that I do not grieve. My grief for Louisa is my reaction to the absence of her voice, of not being able to talk with her of our shared joy in people, of not hearing that sometimes ‘sharp’ but honest voice, of not being able to share with her the "fun" that comes from seeing new accomplishments, of no longer enjoying her sense of humor, of missing keenly her common sense and, perhaps most wrenching of all, of no longer receiving directly her freely expressed, deep and absolutely unquestioning love.

Farewell, Louisa. Some of us have been shaped by you in more ways than any of us realize. We rejoice and take pride in your long and giving life of charity and unselfishness. You have helped so many..and . .you are still helping us in more ways than you could know.

From Arthur Rush

My Dear Louisa

L = Love
O = Others
U = Understanding
I = Inspirational
S = Sincere
A = Affectionate

Dear Louisa your smile was always so bright, you spent many hours helping people whose lives were in shambles and their families were uptight.
You were my sponsor, my mentor, and you gave me a lot of hope. For that I am so grateful and now I help a lot of people go straight and stay off Dope!

Those big, big druggies male and females a lot, Professionals and ex-cons couldn’t handle the tough love that you brought.
Doctors & Lawyers, air line pilots, gangsters,whores, pimps, school kids and administrators tested yours skill, but they didn’t realize that your will always out did their skills.

There was a number that everyone remembered to call when they were in trouble; you better not mess with Louisa because she had no trouble busting your bubble.

That Number was 301-299-8184; you’d better call Louisa before you came to that door.


Louisa and Dick in 1990

Louisa with Precious at Ricki's birthday party in Feb. 2003

Easter 1997, at home, As usual she is preparing for a holiday gathering of the extended Shultz family.

Louisa with Ricki and Connor Christmas 1999


Louisa with Sue and Mike Richardson and Alice Fenton

Louisa and John at the beach

Louisa and Dick prior to going to Catalina in 1990

Louisa's first group

Christmas in Hawaii with Dan, John, Louisa, and Gina's friend


Christmas 2002

With Chris in January 2003

Louisa with Nanny and her brother Jack