Carol N. Kelly, St. Paul's School for Girls librarian, dies

Carol N. Kelly, who was head librarian at St. Paul's School for Girls for two decades and an active churchwoman, died Sept. 29 of Alzheimer's disease at the Maples of Towson, an assisted-living facility.

She was 71 and had lived in Cockeysville.

Carol Ann Newman, the daughter of an insurance executive and a homemaker, was born in Hartford, Conn., and graduated from East Hartford High School.

She was an undergraduate at Drew University in Madison, N.J., when she met and fell in love with a classmate, John Frederic Kelly.

The couple married in 1958, and lived in New England and later abroad when her husband was a personal researcher for Cornelius Ryan, who was writing "A Bridge Too Far" about the Allied defeat during World War II at Arnhem, the Netherlands.

Mrs. Kelly and her husband came to Baltimore in 1972, when he became a staff reporter with The Sun and later the old Sunday Sun Magazine. They divorced in 1980.

Mrs. Kelly earned a bachelor's degree in 1980 in library science from Towson University, and a master's in library science four years later from the University of Maryland, College Park.

She was head librarian at St. Paul's School for Girls in Brooklandville from 1984 until her retirement in 2004.

During her tenure there, she had helped in the planning and transition of three libraries, including a new and expanded library, in the early 2000s.

"Carol was always quiet and unassuming. She was always, always ready to help. You could interrupt her a million times a day and it never bothered her," said Nicki Ridenour, who taught religion at the school and was lay chaplain for 27 years before retiring in 2007.

"She was friendly and very much beloved by the students and faculty, who appreciated her work and what she was willing to do for them," said Mrs. Ridenour, who became acquainted with Mrs. Kelly during their college days at Drew.

"She also always attended the faculty Bible studies that I led," she said.

Mrs. Ridenour also pointed out that her friend was always willing to go out of her way to give a choir member a ride who didn't have a car, so they could attend evening choir practices.

For nearly 30 years, Mrs. Kelly was an active communicant at Epiphany Episcopal Church in Timonium, where she established the church library and served as its director.

"She sang in the choir, served on the vestry and took care of our library," said the Rev. Kathryn Wajda, rector of Epiphany Episcopal Church.

"Carol was always cheery, gracious and looking to be helpful all of the time. She was this tiny woman with oodles of energy," Ms. Wajda said.

Even though Mrs. Kelly was suffering from Alzheimer's, she still came to church with a fellow communicant.

"Carol loved the choir. She'd sit in the front row quietly until we came to the hymns and then she'd join in. And when she came up for Communion, she always had a big smile on her face. It was really very cool," Ms. Wajda said.

Mrs. Kelly had also been a member of the Jezic Singers, a traveling Baltimore ensemble.

She was an accomplished artist who worked in charcoal, pastel and oil and continued taking art classes through the years.

"In later years, she completed portraits of her friends' grandchildren," said a son, Mark L. Kelly of Sewanee, Tenn.

"She could best be described as refined, and she made sure her children and grandchildren understood the roles that art, literature and music play in helping us to define and understand our world," her son said.

Eva Jones, a licensed practical nurse, was a longtime friend and companion.

"I took care of Carol for six years, and we enjoyed each other's company," said Mrs. Jones, who lives in Windsor Hills. "She was a loving person who cared about people. She had a beautiful smile and never complained. Everyone loved her."

"She had a gentle wit and was an empathetic friend," her son said.

The former Lochearn resident later lived on Bolton Hill before moving to Cockeysville some years ago.

Mrs. Kelly had been a member of the Woman's Club of Roland Park.

A memorial service will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at her church, 2216 Pot Spring Road.

Also surviving are another son, Scott F. Kelly of Sammamish, Wash.; and four grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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