Veronica L. `Ronnie' Garrish, 46, school instructional assistant

September 20, 2001|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Veronica L. "Ronnie" Garrish went a little out of her way Monday afternoon to run an errand of kindness, after her day as an instructional assistant in special education at Perry Hall High School.

Mrs. Garrish was delivering a poster and a videotape of good wishes that students had helped create for an ailing co-worker when her car hit the rear of a truck on Belair Road in Kingsville, and she was fatally injured. The Baldwin resident was 46.

Family members, friends and colleagues said Mrs. Garrish routinely went far out of her way in many areas of her life: at work, her children's schools, church, recreation leagues and Girl Scouts.

The errand was typical, said a cousin, Kim Renner of Hagerstown. "She was one of those people who just gave and gave and gave. She was just beautiful," she said.

"Her death leaves a gaping hole in this community," said a friend, Anne Boone-Simanski of Phoenix.

Mrs. Garrish had joined the school in March as an instructional assistant, a contracted position to work in the classroom, and contributed far beyond that job description, colleagues said.

"She was responsible for a very important program here, an outreach program for life skills," said Stephen E. Arnold, Perry Hall's department chairman for special education.

Older students, usually ages 19 to 21, work at the Goodwill Super Store on Belair Road in Perry Hall to learn job skills. "She made the program happen," Mr. Arnold said. "She took a job that could had been a little and made it a lot."

Born in Kansas City, Mo., into a military family, Veronica Romeo moved often until the family settled in Essex when she was in the 10th grade. She was a 1973 graduate of Kenwood High School.

She met her husband of 17 years, Wayne L. Garrish, in 1975 when they both worked in the laboratory at the now-closed Eastern Stainless Steel Corp.

She later earned a certificate in nursing at then-Essex Community College, and took many courses at Towson University.

"She challenged me to do things. She touched people," Mr. Garrish said, recalling that when they went to a church class before marrying at age 29, "we wound up teaching the class."

Before taking the Perry Hall job, Mrs. Garrish worked as an assistant in special education at Jacksonville Elementary, where a high school classmate and friend of 30 years, Vicky Ciulla, is assistant principal.

"In school, Ronnie was one of the most popular girls in the entire class," though she was new to the area, Ms. Ciulla recalled. "She was extremely athletic and outstanding at field hockey."

Mrs. Garrish coached field hockey and softball for the Carroll Manor Recreation Council, and played on the council's over-30 women's softball team, the Baldwin Bombers, coached by her husband.

Mrs. Garrish was active at her daughters' schools, including Maryvale Preparatory School in Brooklandville, and Carroll Manor Elementary in Baldwin. She has been a Girl Scout leader for many years with Troops 3111 and 1901, said Ms. Ciulla, who also leads a troop and called Mrs. Garrish her mentor in Scouting.

Mrs. Garrish drew upon Scout-type projects with her Perry Hall students, as she had several years ago in a job with Home Depot Inc. as an educational director, running children's workshops at several area stores.

Mrs. Garrish was a parishioner at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Hydes, where she taught Sunday school for years as well as its vacation Bible school, said Theresa Konitzer, director of religious education.

A mass of Christian burial will be offered at the church at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by two daughters, Olivia, 15, and Emily, 11; her parents, Joan A. Romeo of Parkville and Richard A. Romeo Sr. of Dundalk; a brother, Richard A. "Rick" Romeo of White Sulphur Spring, W.Va.; and two sisters, Patricia A. Romeo of Parkville and Christina S. Romeo of White Marsh.

A memorial fund in her name has been established in care of Parkville Federal Savings Bank, P.O. Box 5012, Glen Arm 21057, where Mrs. Garrish had worked as a teller.

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