Carol G. Hjortsberg, former head of Grace Episcopal Day School and author of a history of St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Annapolis, died March 27 from complications of diabetes at Baltimore Washington Medical Center. She was 69.
"Carol was very accomplished and a brilliant intellect. She was completely and totally dedicated to the education of children and children in Episcopal schools," said Elizabeth I. Legenhausen, who retired last year after 25 years as head of St. James Academy in Monkton.
The daughter of an Episcopal rector and an administrative assistant, the former Carol Gilson was born in Baltimore and raised in North East and Arbutus.
She was a 1961 graduate of Catonsville High School and earned a bachelor's degree in education in 1965 from the University of Maryland, College Park. She later earned a master's degree in education in 1970 from Radford College in Radford, Va.
Mrs. Hjortsberg was head of St. Martin's-in-the-Field Episcopal School in Severna Park from the late 1970s until 1986, when she left to become head of school at Grace Episcopal Day School, which has campuses in Kensington and Silver Spring.
"I learned a great deal from Carol. She was low-key and uniformly loved at her school. Even though she was the boss, she was loved and could still do her job," said Dr. Legenhausen.
"She was very calm and even and an extremely good listener and a wise counselor," she said. "She was a person who could always remain calm in the face of adversity and always had lots of energy."
Dr. Legenhausen described her longtime friend as the "consummate educational professional who open-heartedly shared her expertise with scores of children and their families."
Mrs. Hjortsberg was also a longtime active member of the Association of Independent Maryland Schools, or AIMS.
"Carol worked with AIMS to guide 120 member schools through the school evaluation process with uncanny acceptance and grace that was emblematic of her career," said Dr. Legenhausen. "As an experienced educator, Carol's wry, quick wit and technical acumen encouraged peers to appreciate and celebrate the learning opportunity in every challenge."
Mrs. Hjortsberg had served as president of the board of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Episcopal Schools and was also a member of the board of the National Association of Episcopal Schools.
During the 1980s, when she was on the board of the National Association of Episcopal Schools, the organization partnered with Episcopal schools in Haiti to provide resources and school supplies.
After retiring from Grace Episcopal Day School in 1998, she became a consultant for AIMS and volunteered at the Smithsonian Institution.
The Millersville resident, who formerly lived in Severna Park, was an active communicant of St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Annapolis, where she was a member of the historic church's archive committee and wrote a column for The Circle, the parish newsletter.
Mrs. Hjortsberg was also the author of "St. Anne's History and Times Annapolis," which traces the church to its founding in 1692.
She enjoyed sailing and was a world traveler. She also was an avid reader of novels and mysteries.
"In going through her personal effects, I found this quote she had copied from D.H. Lawrence and placed in a diary: 'It's no good leaving everything to fate. Man is an adventurer, and he must never give up the adventure,'" said her son, Matthew Gilson Hjortsberg, an attorney who lives in Rodgers Forge.
"I think that sums up her approach to most of her life," her son said. "Her real passions were education and the education of children."
Her husband of nearly 30 years, David Charles Hjortsberg, an attorney, died in 1997.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at her church, Church Circle in Annapolis.
In addition to her son, Mrs. Hjortsberg is survived by a sister, Barbara Yeager of Ellicott City; and two granddaughters.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun