Donna L. Reihl, dean of continuing education at CCBC

Donna Reihl
Donna Reihl (Sam Friedman, Patuxent Publishing)

Donna L. Reihl, dean of continuing education at the Community College of Baltimore County at Catonsville who had been named Woman of the Year by the Baltimore County Commission for Women, died Monday of colon cancer at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson.

The Parkville resident had celebrated her 60th birthday earlier this month.

A daughter of farmers, the former Donna Lee Ensor spent her early years on a My Lady's Manor farm until moving with her family to White Hall.

After graduating from North Harford High School in 1969, she earned a bachelor's degree in 1973 from the University of Maryland, College Park in anthropology. In 1982, she earned a master's in recreation administration and supervision from Morgan State University.

In 1998, she earned a doctorate in business management from Southern California University in Santa Ana.

Dr. Reihl was a substitute teacher at North Harford High School in the early 1970s, until taking a job in 1976 in residential services at the Maryland School for the Blind. In 1980, she took over as director of recreation at the Northeast Baltimore school.

She began her career at the school as a senior house parent and then was promoted to supervisor of group living. From 1980 to 1990, she was supervisor of recreation and a resident program specialist.

Dr. Reihl later became therapeutic recreation coordinator and from 1992 to 1993 took on an additional role as development specialist, writing foundation and grant proposals. Additional duties included donor cultivation, planned giving, capital campaigns and coordinating special events.

"I went to the school for an interview in 1980, and that's when I first met her, and then she hired me to work in residential services," said her husband of 29 years, Tim J. Reihl, director of support services for Creative Options Inc., a private nonprofit that offers support services to disabled Marylanders.

After leaving the Maryland School for the Blind in 1993, she was named director of the Richard E. Hoover Rehabilitation Services for Low Vision and Blindness at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

Dr. Reihl joined the Community College of Baltimore County in 1997 as coordinator of Allied Health and Human Services and later was director of the Owings Mills and Hunt Valley satellite centers with oversight for fall credit and non-credit courses.

She also developed long-term budgets for the centers that served more than 7,500 credit and non-credit students per year, and also supervised the teaching staff.

Since 2006, Dr. Reihl has been dean of community education and service.

For the last five years, Cherie Miller had been Dr. Reihl's assistant.

"Donna was an amazing person. I've never known anyone with such positive energy who always brightened rooms with her smile and laughter," Ms. Miller recalled Thursday.

"She was a move forward person who was always encouraging her team here. She touched so many people and she mentored people both in small and large ways," she said.

Terilynn R. Murray, a program specialist at CCBC in the 1990s, was a longtime close friend.

"I worked with her at CCBC and we've been friends for 30 years. She was a dynamic, forward-thinking idea person who had the necessary follow through,' said Ms. Murray. "She was a wonderful colleague and there wasn't anything she wouldn't do to help others. Donna really was a phenomenal person."

In addition to her work at the college, Dr. Reihl had served on the boards of the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce and the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland.

In 2003, Dr. Reihl was named Woman of the Year by the Baltimore County Commission for Women, and her daughter, Sara C. Reihl, was named Young Woman of the Year. It marked the first time in the organization's 21-year history that a mother and daughter received the award.

"I was stunned to receive this award. I was absolutely speechless, it was such an honor. If you do the things you believe in doing anyway, you never think you're going to get an award for it," Dr. Reihl told The Baltimore Sun at the time.

"I think I was even more excited about Sara winning. … It's just very special to see your daughter win something," she said.

Dr. Reihl was diagnosed in April with the cancer that would claim her life.

"She was upbeat and thought she was going to beat it. We all thought she'd beat it. After her first chemotherapy treatments, she said, 'This isn't all that bad,'" her husband said.

Dr. Reihl enjoyed painting watercolor landscapes, traveling cross country, and visiting Italy and England. She collected antiques, china and "loved shopping," her husband said.

Dr. Reihl was a member of Hiss United Methodist Church in Parkville.

Plans for a memorial service were incomplete Thursday.

In addition to her husband and daughter, who also lives in Parkville, Dr. Reihl is survived by her father, John E. Ensor of White Hall.


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