Caroline F. Donaghy, a vivacious and talented woman who had careers in the art, culinary, wine and animal care worlds and was a co-founder of Charm City Roller Girls, died Nov. 16 of undetermined causes at a friend’s home in Mount Vernon. She was 44.
Caroline Faye Donaghy, the daughter of James Donaghy and Cheryl Daringer, was born in Easton and spent her early years in Cambridge. She later moved to Cape St. Claire, near Annapolis, where she graduated from Broadneck High School.
She attended the Maryland Institute College of Art, the Art Institute of Washington and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, where she was studying to become a sommelier and had achieved intermediate certification, said her domestic partner of a decade, Alessandra Aliquo of Santa Cruz, California.
At the time of her death, Ms. Donaghy was working for Woofotel, a dog day care facility on North Howard Street, where she cared for and walked dogs.
Ms. Donaghy had various jobs, working as a cashier at Michaelangelo’s Pizza on West Read Street and selling vintage clothing, which she enjoyed collecting and wearing, Ms. Aliquo said.
From 2018 to 2019, she worked as a studio manager for Artstar Custom Paintworks in Baltimore, where she was the principal liaison between the owner, staff and clients. She also assisted with decorative painting such as faux bois, Venetian plaster and gilding interior and exterior surfaces.
During her New York City years, from 2011 to 2018, she was a manager and service representative for Lot18, which deals in wine sales for “high-end clientele,” according to her resume.
“One job she was very proud of was working for her dad’s company, CSCI, when she was in her late teens and early twenties. They do window washing and stone cleaning for major clients such as Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport and the Smithsonian Institution,” Ms. Aliquo wrote in an email.
Ms. Donaghy attended culinary school in Philadelphia, and while studying at a culinary arts school in Houston, she fell under the spell of roller derbies and became a member of the Space Roller Girls, a local team.
“The sport’s camaraderie, speed and roughness hooked her, as it has hooked other women across the country,” The Sun reported in a 2005 profile. “Until recently, Baltimore was one of the last major cities in the nation without a women’s roller derby league. Donaghy put her things in storage and flew back to Baltimore in February to start one.”
Ms. Donaghy’s 2005 rollout of what became Charm City Roller Girls was rocky. After she created a MySpace page announcing her plan to start a women’s league, only a few signed up. With money vaporizing, she worked four jobs at once to keep her dream alive.
“I was starting to freak out,” she told The Sun. “I thought I made a really bad decision.”
Desperate, she went to Kinko’s, printed nearly 1,000 flyers, and posted them around the city. It drew more applicants than she could possibly use, and she finally settled on 60 skaters.
“In a roller derby, skaters called jammers try to pass members of the opposing team to score points, while other skaters try to block them,” The Sun reported. “A certain level of contact is involved, which can lead to nasty fights on the rink, Donaghy said.”
The league was based at Putty Hill Skateland in Northeast Baltimore County and had four teams: the Junkyard Dolls, Speed Regime, Night Terrors and Mobtown Mobs.
“The modern version of women’s flat-track roller derby combines fast, hard-hitting action with skimpy costumes — and a lot of attitude,” The Sun observed in 2006.
The roller derby league played matches first at the 5th Regiment Armory and later at the Du Burns Arena in Canton. Ms. Donaghy skated with the league until moving away to New York City and California. She moved back to Baltimore about six years ago.
“They are not currently active right now because of the pandemic in recent years, but Caroline was really proud of the Charm City Roller Girls,” Ms. Aliquo said in a telephone interview.
In addition to vintage clothing, Ms. Donaghy collected 33 rpm albums and eclectic art. She also loved all “furry animals,” Ms. Aliquo said.
She liked tattoos and, during her skating days, would celebrate victories with tattoos.
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Ms. Aliquo recalled meeting her future partner on a website in 2003; after corresponding and talking on the phone about books, movies and music, they decided to meet.
“I remember when we first met in 2004,” Ms. Aliquo recalled. “She stole her dad’s truck, drove to New York, and we met at 6 a.m. at a cafe. And then we went to The Chelsea Hotel that night. We love one another and have always been very close.”
She described Ms. Donaghy as a “very, very generous and a genuinely good person who had such a wonderful heart.”
“Even though she never had a college degree, she was a fabulous writer and incredibly intelligent. She looked at the world through a different lens, and she willingly shared that with others she was around,” Ms. Aliquo said. “Caroline was magnetic and was one of those people who inspire you because of their positivity. She was always energetic and supportive of others.”
She added, “She was a burst of light and was so incredibly smart.”
A memorial gathering will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Barranco Severna Park Funeral Home & Cremation Care, at 495 Gov. Ritchie Highway.
In addition to Ms. Aliquo, Ms. Donaghy is survived by her mother, Cheryl Daringer of Houston; her father, James Donaghy, of Arnold; two sisters, Amber Kemp of Arnold and Rebekah Donaghy of Sacramento, California; her stepmother, Kristine Donaghy of Arnold; her maternal grandmother, Dolores Daringer of Cambridge; and many aunts, uncles and cousins.