Jennalee Braswell Suder, 12, Cathedral School Honor Student

April 23, 1997|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Jennalee Braswell Suder, who received widespread church and community support during a two-year struggle with neuroblastoma, died of the rare cancer Sunday at her home on Witherspoon Road in Homeland. She was 12.

Born in Baltimore, Jennalee lived with her parents, attorneys Robert Braswell Suder and Joanne Lynch Suder. Mr. Suder undertook full-time care of his daughter after she became ill.

But Jennalee continued her studies as a sixth-grade honor student at the Cathedral School. She also loved dance and music, and had studied ballet at the Peabody Conservatory since she was a toddler.

She remained active at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, where she was in the first group of girls to become altar servers. As long as she was able, Jennalee enjoyed traveling with her family, especially to Florida's Gulf Coast.

Since her condition was diagnosed in May 1995, Grant-a-Wish Foundation and the Make-a-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic had helped to fulfill several of her dreams:

In November 1995, all 15 of her beloved but far-flung cousins were brought to Maryland for a Florida-theme party at the Towson Sheraton.

At Oriole Park last summer, she took the field with Cal Ripken Jr. "She was a major Orioles fan, and Cal Ripken was her favorite," said one of her aunts, Bonnie Darves of Portland, Ore.

Most recently, Jennalee made her last trip to Florida several months ago to meet the Olsen twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley, of the television series "Full House," and spent the day with them.

"One thing that struck me about Jennalee was that she wanted to participate in as much life as there was," said the Rev. Thomas E. Ryan, associate pastor of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. "She was most willing to accept any treatment that would get her better and she did it at a cost to her comfort and time.

"She was determined to accept any form of intervention. She never gave up on herself because she was in love with life and living," said Father Ryan, who visited her daily during the last weeks of her life.

Father Ryan said he was always moved by her courage.

In her last week of life, Jennalee fulfilled another wish when she officially added her father's middle name -- Braswell -- to her own.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 1 p.m. today in the cathedral at 5300 N. Charles St.

In addition to her parents, she is survived by her brother Brian, 21, a student at Towson State University; her paternal grandmother, Anna Belle Braswell Suder of Lithonia, Ga., and maternal grandmother, Therese Lynch of Newport Beach, Calif.; six aunts and uncles in Oregon and California; and her 15 cousins.

The family suggested donations to the Johns Hopkins Hospital Oncology Center, Suite 801, 550 N. Broadway, Baltimore 21205; or to the fine arts program of the Cathedral School, 5300 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21202.

Pub Date: 4/23/97

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