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Richard D. Carl Sr., a Korean War veteran and longtime science educator, dies

Richard D. Carl Sr. enjoyed planning field trips for his students to geological sites.
Richard D. Carl Sr. enjoyed planning field trips for his students to geological sites.

Richard D. Carl Sr., a Korean War veteran and longtime Baltimore County public schools science teacher who later taught at Stevenson University, died of complications from dementia June 23 at Gilchrist Center in Towson. He was 88.

“When I was a student at Towson University, he was my department chair and then we taught together at Golden Ring Junior High School. He was my mentor and really taught me how to teach. He was such an interesting character,” said Grant D. Soukup, who after retiring, moved to Montana where he taught at Montana State University.

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“I was also a faux son, and we remained very close. Carl was just an amazing educator,” he said. “You meet people in life like Carl, and when you’re forced to make a hard decision, you ask yourself, ‘What would Carl do?’ He was just an amazing educator.”

Richard David Carl, son of Dorvan Carl, a builder, and his wife, Helen Carl, was born in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, and moved with his family to Baltimore in the late 1930s, eventually settling into a home on East Belvedere Avenue in Govans.

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Mr. Carl attended Govans Elementary School and Roland Park Junior High, and graduated in 1952 from Polytechnic Institute. After leaving Poly, he enlisted in the Army where he served as an infantryman from 1952 to 1954 and saw combat in Korea. He was discharged with the rank of corporal.

In 1949, he met and fell in love with the former Shirley Frances Wagner, who was 14 and lived around the corner from his East Belvedere Avenue home, when he was working at a York Road fruit stand. They married in 1954.

Mr. Carl earned a bachelor’s degree in 1963 from what is now Towson University and began teaching science at Dumbarton Middle School, and subsequently at Old Court and Golden Ring junior high schools and Dundalk High School. He also obtained a master’s degree in 1970 from what is now Loyola University Maryland.

“In the classroom, Mr. Carl was direct, but used his keen sense of humor to get his point across,” wrote a daughter, Brenda Carl Suthers of Parkville, a former Baltimore broadcaster who is a public information officer for the Maryland State Police, in a biographical profile of her father.

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Mr. Soukup said of Mr. Carl’s teaching style: “There are some teachers who manage a group of kids by saying, ‘Shut up and listen.’ That was not Carl’s way. He never yelled at anyone or was mean. He always said discipline came from a well-planned lesson, and as he said, you had to ‘invite, invest and share ownership’ of what was being taught. He was very subtle and never talked at them, but to them. It was the kind of environment you’d want for your own kids.

“In the 1970s, he’d bring home confiscated classroom contraband, such as glass clacker balls and record albums. At Golden Ring, also known as the ‘Solar Circle,’ he starred in dramatic teacher productions, including ‘A Rocket in My Pocket’ as well as participating in multiple science fairs and field trips,” Ms. Suthers wrote.

After retiring from county public schools in 1996, he taught from 1998 to 2000 at Maryvale Preparatory School in Brooklandville. In 2000, he joined the faculty of what is now Stevenson University, where he taught geology for 14 years until 2014 when he retired for a second time.

During the 1980s, when his daughter was on WKTK FM Radio, Mr. Carl appeared in a segment as “Dr. Quote,” where he delivered fun and interesting science facts.

If Mr. Carl found contentment in the classroom with his students, he also found fulfillment planning and taking them on field trips to geological sites.

Mr. Carl enjoyed being a geologist and shared with students his passion for learning about and examining rocks that are indigenous to Maryland.

A favorite destination was Sideling Hill, near Hancock in Washington County, which is considered to be one of the best rock exposures in the state, and is bisected by Interstate 68.

“He guided numerous field trips to any place within a couple of hours drive showing students first hand the amazing wonders of nature,” Ms. Suthers said.

“Carl loved looking at rocks and he loved those field trips and talking about rocks. We did 27 trips one year, and the classes were big in those days, 30 or 40 kids,” Mr. Soukup said. “The bus would stop alongside the highway and with cars whizzing by, Carl would talk about the rocks they were looking at or holding.”

To earn income during summers when he was teaching, Mr. Carl established Garden of Eden, a landscaping company, where he was able to share with his clients his extensive knowledge about the placement of plants, shrubs and trees.

He had been a longtime volunteer at Harford Hills Elementary School in Parkville, and traveled the country with Habitat for Humanity building homes for the less fortunate.

When he was 50, Mr. Carl began jogging, and in the ensuing years, ran numerous Baltimore and Maryland marathons, while winning many trophies and compiling a list of the thousands of miles he had run.

Mr. Carl, who lived on Brook Road in Towson’s Greenbrier neighborhood, never passed up an opportunity to play a competitive game of horseshoes, family members said.

“He was a very kindhearted man,” Ms. Suthers said. “That will be his legacy.”

He was an active member of Divinity Lutheran Church, 1220 Providence Road, Towson, where funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday.

In addition to his wife of 66 years and his daughter, Mr. Carl is survived by a son, Richard D. Carl Jr. of Westminster; another daughter, Julie Brown of Parkville; six grandchildren; and a great-grandson. Another son, Daniel Lawrence Carl, died in 2019.

This article has been updated. Due to incorrect information submitted to The Baltimore Sun, a previous version misidentified a junior high school where Richard D. Carl Sr. taught. He taught at Old Court and Golden Ring junior high schools. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

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