Sue P. Carnell, a retired Baltimore City Community College administrator and former head of the diversity committee at Friends School, died Aug. 16 from cardiac failure at her home in the Broadmead retirement community in Cockeysville. She was 80.
"Sue had just an enormous spirit and was able to get others to summon their courage and roll up their sleeves," said Matt Micciche, Friends School's head of school. "You wanted to follow her."
"She was outgoing and had an infectious sense of humor. She was just a dynamo, and whatever she threw herself into, it was a 100 percent," he said. "She was extraordinary to people around her and when she championed a cause, she brought them all along."
Mrs. Carnell joined Stony Run Friends Meeting at age 13, and already had developed a deep concern for social justice issues.
As a teenager in the early 1950s, she made an "impassioned speech to the Baltimore Monthly Meeting urging Friends School to accept students of color, as it did shortly thereafter, following the passage of Brown v. Board of Education," wrote a daughter, Rachel Carnell of Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a biographical profile of her mother.
"That 13-year-old had the very same spirit when I got to know her 50 years later," Mr. Micciche said. "When it came to right and wrong she always spoke the truth. And when it came to social justice, she never changed."
Mrs. Carnell later established the Powel-Carnell Scholarship Fund at Friends School, which benefited students of color. As a member of the board of Friends School from 2008 to 2013, she chaired the diversity committee that had been established in 2007.
"She was an absolutely integral part of the work of the board and was focused on diversity," Mr. Micciche said. "She was one of the people who developed and led the strategic plan process on diversity and moved it forward."
The former Sue Powel was the daughter of William Rodenbaugh Powel and Alice Klingelhofer Powel, a homemaker.
She was born in Baltimore and raised at Doughoregan Manor, the historic Howard County estate of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Her father was the estate manager.
She was a graduate of the Samuel Ready School on Baltimore National Pike, and was 16 when she entered Goucher College. She was a 1957 Phi Beta Kappa graduate with a degree in international relations.
She met her future husband, John Carnell, in 1955 at a Quaker youth conference in Indiana, and was engaged five days later. The couple married later that year.
While raising four children, Mrs. Carnell earned a master's degree in education in 1974 from what is now Towson University and a certificate of advanced studies in liberal arts in 1981 from the Johns Hopkins University.
In 1975, she began her career at what was then the Community College of Baltimore — now Baltimore City Community College — as director of the student tutoring center.
"I was new to the college and I needed someone who had the respect of the faculty and staff," said Raymond C. Bowen, vice president of the college from 1976 to 1982. "I was from New York and new to Baltimore.
"When I asked, 'Who should I have as my assistant?' They all said, 'Get Sue Carnell.' " recalled Mr. Bowen, a resident of Mount Washington. "She really helped me with my administration. She was lovely and gracious and we became great friends on and off campus, and her husband, John, became a great pal."
She later moved into administrative roles in the dean's and president's offices, serving as director of communications and advancement administration and assistant to the vice president of academic and student affairs. She was also executive director of the Baltimore Community College Foundation.
She retired in 1999.
"She was always dedicated to the college and its mission," her daughter wrote.
Mrs. Carnell served on the boards of Samuel Ready Scholarships Inc. and of the Friends Journal, a national Quaker publication based in Philadelphia.
The longtime resident of the Idlewylde neighborhood of Baltimore County moved in 2005 to Broadmead, where she served as vice president of the residents' association and was head of the ceramics club.
She and her husband, who had been assistant headmaster for finance at Friends School, traveled to more than 50 countries after his 1996 retirement. He died in 2015.
Mrs. Carnell enjoyed entertaining family and friends and was known for her pies, deviled eggs and fruit salads — and her "wacky cake."
"Wacky cake wasn't weird or anything, but it was a chocolate cake with real fudgy icing, and it was a ritual for her grandchildren and the adults," said a son, J. Kevin Carnell of Towson. "It was a longstanding family thing."
Mrs. Carnell had a mischievous side which did not always find favor with the parents of her grandchildren.
"In the winter, there was a hill behind her apartment at Broadmead which would ice over," Mr. Carnell said. "She'd take trays from the dining hall and the grandkids would go sledding. Their parents couldn't believe it."
"Her tenacity and unwavering ability to see the best in people lifted everyone she touched," her daughter wrote. "Her light will not be soon forgotten. It will continue to lift those who hold her in their memories and in their hearts."
Services are private.
In addition to her daughter and son, Mrs. Carnell is survived by another son, Dr. N. Eric Carnell of Frederick; another daughter, Cristin Carnell Lambros of Roland Park; and eight grandchildren.