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Marsha Carow, former counselor, publishing executive and NBC researcher, dies at 76

Marsha Carow, former counselor, publishing executive and NBC researcher, dies at 76
Marsha Carow enjoyed traveling and was considered by friends to be the life of the party. (Handout)

Marsha Strong Carow, a former counselor, publishing executive and NBC researcher who loved to travel even as she battled cancer late in life, died of the disease May 10 at her home in Lutherville. She was 76.

The daughter of Katherine Fisher Strong, a homemaker, and Jay Voss Strong, an executive at a company that provided private pension plans, Ms. Carow was born in Philadelphia and raised in Bethesda and Rockville.

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She was a 1964 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University. After graduating, she attended secretarial school at Katharine Gibbs College and began working for NBC in New York, as executive secretary to news anchors Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.

After several years there, Ms. Carow moved to NBC’s Washington offices and worked as a researcher focused on regulatory and legislative issues. She helped the network navigate the end of cigarette advertising on television, challenges to the Federal Communications Commission’s “fairness doctrine,” and efforts by President Richard Nixon to threaten broadcast licenses.

In the early 1970s, she helped open a Washington office for publishing company Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, eventually becoming a corporate vice president. She helped lead the Information Industry Association, a trade group, serving on its board of directors and chairing its intellectual property committee.

For years, she lobbied for U.S. approval of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, a treaty providing international recognition of copyrights. Congress and President Ronald Reagan adopted it in 1988.

The publishing company closed its Washington office in 1990, and Ms. Carow headed to Baltimore to start a new career in social work.

“She had to reinvent herself,” said her husband, Karl Pfrommer, a former Maryland Public Television broadcaster and operations manager.

She earned a master’s degree in social work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore in 1993, settled in Rodgers Forge and started working at Social Work Associates. In 1998, she moved on to start her own counseling practice at Bay Ridge Counseling Center in Lutherville.

After meeting Mr. Pfrommer at a jazz bar, Ms. Carow married him in 1996. The couple moved to Lutherville about 10 years ago.

Ms. Carow attended the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer on North Charles Street and was active in church programs, including helping to design classes and invite guest speakers for its adult education initiatives.

For about two decades, Ms. Carow was a regular participant in a book club that read and discussed contemporary novels. Lois Schenck, a group member and close friend of Ms. Carow, said her counseling work helped her explore characters more deeply.

“Her insights into people were so wonderful,” Mrs. Schenck said. “Obviously she understood people very well.”

Ms. Carow retired from her counseling practice in 2010. The following year she was diagnosed with breast cancer and told it was terminal, Mr. Pfrommer said.

“We were given one to two years, and we got seven years and eight months,” he said.

They spent much of that time traveling, often on cruises. They toured the Mediterranean Sea twice, visiting Greece, Israel, Jordan and Turkey, and once traveling through the Suez Canal to visit Dubai. On another cruise, the couple traveled down the East Coast to visit Cape Canaveral, Florida, and various islands, Mr. Pfrommer said.

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That was in addition to regular trips to Lewes, Delaware, and Florida’s Gulf Coast that Ms. Carow took for many years.

“She was the one that really wanted to travel, and I enjoyed every moment of it,” he said.

On one trip to a villa in Tuscany, Ms. Carow was in poor health and needed rest, but was nonetheless “determined to have a good time,” a friend recalled.

“That was Marsha for as long as I knew her,” said Dayle deRaat, a friend of Ms. Carow’s since 1990. “Determined to live life to the fullest and make the best of everything — whatever good or bad fortune that came her way.”

Friends and family remarked at her bravery, optimism and generosity throughout her battle with cancer.

“She was cheerful and positive the entire time,” Mrs. Schenck said.

In the mind of Phyllis Cox, a sorority sister of Ms. Carow’s at Ohio Wesleyan, Ms. Carow will always be the life of the party.

“She looked great in red,” said Ms. Cox, of New York. “She had the best smile in the world.”

A memorial service will be held June 15 at 10 a.m. at the Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., Baltimore. Ms. Carow donated her body to the Maryland Anatomy Board.

Along with her husband, Ms. Carow is survived by a sister, Charlotte Strong Johnson of Wenatchee, Wash.; two brothers, Jay Voss Strong Jr. of Milton, Del., and John David Strong of Scotch Plains, N.J.; a stepdaughter, Jill Griffith of Rodgers Forge; three stepsons, K. Richard Pfrommer Jr. of Oakland, Calif., Todd Pfrommer of Cary, N.C., and Chad Pfrommer of Lutherville; and five stepgrandchildren. An earlier marriage ended in divorce.

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