Carolyn `Casey' Willis, 54, civic activist in Howard County

March 06, 2000|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Carolyn "Casey" Willis, a longtime civic activist in Howard County who held a number of posts with county government and ran for a seat in the Maryland General Assembly, died Thursday of cancer at her Glenwood home. She was 54.

A former teacher and reporter, Mrs. Willis was western Howard County community correspondent for The Sun's Howard County bureau for a year, leaving the post last year.

Mrs. Willis moved to the county in 1974 and immersed herself in civic and political activities. She was elected to the county Democratic State Central Committee in 1982 and was chairwoman from 1985 to 1986.

In 1994, she made an unsuccessful run for a House of Delegates seat in District 14B, winning the Democratic primary but losing in the November general election.

She edited a newsletter for the Rouse Co.'s public affairs department from 1991 to 1994. From 1987 to 1990, she was public information administrator for Howard County government, and served as the county's tourism executive director from 1984 to 1986.

Mrs. Willis was a member of Howard's Human Rights Commission from 1978 to 1982 and was the county representative on the Baltimore Regional Planning Council's Air Quality Task Force from 1977 to 1980.

She was news director for Howard County Cable television from 1983 to 1984.

She was active in several civic organizations, including the Rotary Club of Columbia, the American Heart Association of Howard County and the YMCA. She served on the board of directors of the county Association for Retarded Citizens and raised money for Howard County General Hospital.

She had served on the board of deacons of Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church.

Born in Hagerstown, Carolyn Henson graduated from South Hagerstown High School and received a bachelor's degree from Western Maryland College in 1967. She taught high school English and drama for seven years in Baltimore County schools before she moved to Howard County.

She was a member of First Presbyterian Church of Howard County, 9325 Presbyterian Circle, Columbia, where a funeral will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow.

She is survived by her husband of 32 years, Dr. Eugene Willis; a daughter, Amy Willis of Glenwood; two sons, Robert M. Willis of Philadelphia and David P. Willis of Glenwood; her mother, Alice Henson Hessler of Hagerstown; a sister, Sylvia L. Scarborough of Salisbury; and a brother, Eric P. Henson of Clear Spring.

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