Audrey Blackburn Schell, 73, businesswoman, skater, actress

May 01, 2000

Audrey Blackburn Schell, a self-made businesswoman and avid figure skater who graced the off-Broadway stages of New York when she was young, died of lung cancer at her Baltimore County home Friday. She was 73.

Born Audrey Blackburn and raised in the Hamilton section of Baltimore, she graduated from Friends School and earned her bachelor's degree in theater at the Women's College of the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, N.C., in 1949.

After moving to New York, she joined several theater groups, performed in off-Broadway and summer stock productions, and once appeared in a television show with the young Frank Sinatra before taking a job as an advertising copywriter.

In 1957, she married architect Rick Schell and left New York so he could pursue an advanced degree at the University of Illinois. Five years after their wedding, Mr. Schell died.

Mrs. Schell returned to Baltimore a short time later and began a career in advertising, public relations and promotions, working for building and design firms, including the Baltimore City Planning Department and RTKL Associates Inc.

In the early 1970s, she opened a consulting company, Urban Communications, that handled accounts for such organizations as the Home Builders Association of Maryland.

A longtime resident of Armagh Village, she enjoyed gardening and figure skating at Northwest Ice Rink.

She was active in Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., where a memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. today.

Mrs. Schell is survived by a daughter, Lisa Manzi of Ipswich, Mass.; a stepson, Rick Schell of Atherton, Calif.; a brother, Robert Blackburn of St. Louis; and four grandchildren.

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