Candace C.W. Antwine, a member of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education, died Friday, the school system announced.
Antwine was elected to a six-year term representing northern and western Anne Arundel County on the nonpartisan board in 2018.
At age 45, Antwine died of complications from deep vein thrombosis, according to an announcement by the school system.
Antwine had focused on the needs of military children, as well as on eliminating bullying and defusing racial tensions in schools, according to the school system.
“She was passionate about equality and inclusion for all students,” Melissa Ellis, the school board president, said in a statement Saturday. “Not one to just point out issues that needed to be addressed, Ms. Antwine instead worked closely and energetically with members and staff to drive action that would lead to effective solutions.”
Schools Superintendent George Arlotto said: “I will remember Ms. Antwine as someone who sought at every turn to leave our school system in a better place than it was when she arrived.”
Other board members took to social media to write their disbelief and share the loss of a “staunch advocate,” who many also described as a dear friend.
“I will do all I can to honor her memory and carry her work forward,” board member Dana Schallheim wrote. “There is a hole in my heart and on the Board tonight. May her memory be a blessing.”
When Antwine ran for the school board in 2018, she told The Capital that she was “fearless” and wanted to be “a voice for positive solutions.”
One year into her term, she wrote about how the elation of winning the election gave way to challenges in making the changes she sought. She urged others to combat the “poisons that cripple our students’ education.”
“As hate, apathy and disregard continue to plague our schools, I am hurting. I am frustrated. I am appalled,” she wrote in a guest column for The Capital.
She worked for the U.S. Department of Defense and previously served in the U.S. Navy. At the time she ran, Antwine was vice president of Meade High School’s Parent Teacher Student Association.
Antwine earned a bachelor’s degree from the Mississippi University for Women and a master’s degree from Webster University.
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Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman described Antwine’s death as a loss to the county.
“Nobody was more laser-focused on helping children, helping families, and helping fellow veterans than Candace,” he said in a statement on his Facebook. “She advocated with passion, but she mastered the art of civility, demonstrated respect, and carefully thought through every word and every action that she delivered.”
Antwine’s seat on the school board will be filled by the Anne Arundel County Council.
Her family will celebrate her life at a funeral service at 1 p.m. July 31 at Hope Church in her hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi, according to the school system. There will also be a memorial service for Antwine from 5:30 to 7 p.m. July 30 at First United Christian Church in Tupelo.
The Board of Education and Anne Arundel County Public Schools are planning a public tribute to Antwine’s life later this summer.
Capital Gazette staff contributed to this article.