Carol Ann Clews, the past director of the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns and a former film producer, died of pancreatic cancer April 16 at University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center. She was 78 and lived in Reisterstown.
Born in Carol Ann Peterson in East Meadow, New York, she was the daughter of Swedish immigrants, Edward Ragnar Peterson, an aircraft manufacturing supervisor, and his wife, Ensie Anna Charlotte, a homemaker.
Ms. Clews recalled her father saying that he came to this country at 17 with less than a dollar in change in his pocket.
She completed high school in Mineola, New York, and attended a community college, then began a career in advertising on New York City’s Madison Avenue as an assistant to an account executive.
She moved to Baltimore in 1970. After her children were in school, she began part-time work as a secretary at the local film and video production firm.
She later married William Vincent Clews, who owned a video and film production business.
She scheduled and assigned crews to productions and scouted locations. She went on to become a full-time producer.
The firm marketed itself as Outrageously Effective on its T-shirts and letterheads.
The business made training and promotion films. She was part of the team that staged a car crash on the yet-unopened Interstate 795 expressway for a client.
For another film, she helped arrange for an actor, frustrated about getting a copying machine to work, to toss it out a 17th-story window onto Light Street. The stunt was filmed early on a Sunday morning.
For a sales training film about the perils of having a business deal fail, she assisted in blowing up a 17-room house. The home was scheduled to be razed for a highway expansion.
Ms. Clews started her own production company, Production Management Group.
Friends said she was a woman of deep Christian convictions and was a founder of the Anglican Church of the Resurrection on Greenspring Avenue in Baltimore County.
As part of her personal mission, she worked with women seeking an alternative to abortion. She joined and became director of the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns.
Her husband, William Vincent Clews, described the group as “a pro-life agency that provided counseling and alternatives for abortion-minded women.”
“She cared very much for the poor and disadvantaged of Baltimore City,” said attorney Thomas Schetelich, who chaired the Pregnancy Concerns board. “She cared for those who had terrible needs in their life. She raised funds so the center offered services to enable mothers to care for their children up to the age of 2.
“Her life’s work was in the pro-life community. She was just as interested in saving families as she was in saving unborn children.”
Mr. Schetelich also said: “She was compassionate and caring toward the mothers facing these difficult decisions. She was the driving force in greatly expanding the services, free of charge. She helped with material support, education and friendship for women who found themselves in lonely situations.”
“At the time the agency was heavily in debt and considering closing its doors,” said her husband, William Vincent Clews. “Carol found a single donation that kept the doors open and retained the small staff.”
He said that when she joined the Center for Pregnancy Concerns it was anti-Catholic.
“She quickly added Roman Catholic members, and created an ecumenical board that reached out to the broader pro-life community,” her husband said.
In a statement, Baltimore Roman Catholic Archbishop William E. Lori called Ms. Clews a “towering figure.”
“In her many years working at the Center for Pregnancy Concerns, Carol showed genuine love and compassion for pregnant women who were often scared and alone and had nowhere else to turn,” the archbishop said. “She gave them more than material support. She showed them kindness and encouragement.”
During her tenure at the center, Baltimore City informed the agency that it would have to remove window signs, noting that it did not refer women for abortion.
The law was later struck down.
“Baltimore officials cannot use a 2009 city law to force a Christian pregnancy center to post a disclaimer stating that it won’t refer women for abortions, a federal judge ruled this week,” a 2016 Baltimore Sun story said.
U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis ruled that enforcing the ordinance would violate the free-speech rights of the Center for Pregnancy Concerns, but he declined to find that the law itself was unconstitutional.
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Survivors include her husband of 37 years, William Vincent Clews, a retired video and film producer; a daughter, Cristin Marie Lyons of Raleigh, North Carolina; a son, Todd Clinton Hitchcock of Catonsville; a sister, Ingrid Peterson Warren of Memphis, Tennessee; a stepson, Christopher William Clews of Deerfield Beach, Florida; and a stepdaughter, Ashleigh Marie Clews of Cockeysville; and a granddaughter. A previous marriage ended in divorce.