Donna L. Frisch, a longtime volunteer who was active in numerous religious organizations, died July 7 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at the Blakehurst Retirement Community in Towson, where she had lived since 2014. The former Ruxton resident was 80.
The former Donna Lee Schwaab, daughter of H. Donald Schwaab, a Miles and Stockbridge lawyer, and his wife, Leila Van Leer Schwaab, a homemaker and volunteer, was born in Baltimore and raised on Tunbridge Road in Homeland.
After graduating in 1958 from Roland Park Country School, where she played field hockey and lacrosse, she earned a bachelor’s degree in American studies in 1962 from Smith College.
Following her graduation from Smith, she worked for the American Field Service in New York City, which “sparked her lasting interest in travel and in cultures other than her own.” her daughter, Laura Frisch Marsh of Scarsdale, New York, wrote in a biographical profile of her mother.
In 1963, she married Richard “Dick” Frisch, who worked for McCormick & Co. After her husband was transferred to Chicago, they lived in Evanston, Illinois, and she worked in the graduate office at Northwestern University and later taught third grade at North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, Illinois.
After returning to Baltimore in 1970, the couple settled into a home on Malvern Avenue in Ruxton.
She was an active member of the Junior League of Baltimore and served as its president from 1982 to 1984. Her volunteerism included serving as co-chair of Project Shelter, which assisted the city’s homeless. She was also a member of the Literacy Commission of Baltimore as well as the Family and Children’s Society’s Interagency Committee for Child Abuse and Neglect.
During the administration of Mayor William Donald Schaefer, she was a member of the Mayor’s Professional Women’s Advisory Group and was president of Action for the Homeless in Maryland from 1987 to 1989. She was the gifts facilitator for men and women in crisis through Episcopal Social Ministries.
Mrs. Frisch served on the boards of United Way Community Services, the YWCA, Health & Welfare Council of Central Maryland, Episcopal Social Ministries and the Ecumenical Institute.
Her volunteer work earned her many awards, some of which included the Mayor’s Citation from the City of Baltimore for public service, a Governor’s Citation from Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in 2006, the Eleanor Evans Hooper Humanitarian Award, and the Community Problem Solving Award from the United Way Community Services.
Mrs. Frisch was interested in theological studies and Christian-Jewish relations. She was an active member of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, where she served on the vestry and as a member of the Presiding Episcopal Bishop’s Committee on Christian-Jewish relations, and served as a coordinator of the 9th National Workshop on Christian-Jewish Relations.
She was also an interreligious program specialist of the National Conference of Christian and Jews, and was a co-founder and board member of the Institute for Christian Jewish Studies, now known as the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies.
In the early 1990s, she earned a master’s degree in theology from the Ecumenical Institute of St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, and for several years, taught a comparative religions course at the Bryn Mawr School.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic plans for a memorial service are incomplete.
In addition to her husband of 57 years and daughter, she is survived by a son, Alec Frisch of Atlanta; a sister, Linda Schwaab Hodges of Kinston, North Carolina; and four grandchildren.