Marcia Renee Arnold, 23, volunteer, mentor, Myrtle Beach waitress

October 02, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Marcia Renee Arnold, a former Parkville resident whose devotion to helping those in need defined her life, died of undetermined causes Thursday at her apartment in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. She was 23.

At the time of her death, Miss Arnold was being treated for respiratory problems and arrhythmia, family members said.

Miss Arnold, who was known as Marcie, was born in Baltimore and raised in Parkville. As a youth, she joined Metro-Maryland Youth for Christ/Campus Life and enjoyed working with the underprivileged and those who were troubled.

She also assisted her father, Robert C. Arnold Sr., executive director of Metro-Maryland Youth for Christ/Campus Life, and her mother, Jeanne C. Arnold, who operated a youth camp for underprivileged children in the Bahamas.

"I think from 14 on, she lived on the telephone helping people," said Mr. Arnold. "She was a faithful friend, and to know Marcie was to know her smile. It brought joy into every situation."

She volunteered and mentored in the Arc of Baltimore's adult day care program and taught English to Hispanic residents as a member of the Hispanic Apostolate of Baltimore. She also provided child care to families with young children.

At McDonogh School, where she had received an academic scholarship, Miss Arnold was manager of the school's lacrosse team and was varsity volleyball captain for three years.

"Marcie was very bright and full of life," said Wright Abbot, chairman of the school's English Department. "She was one of the more empathetic students and was caring about their feelings."

After graduation from McDonogh in 1997, Miss Arnold attended Goucher College for two years before enrolling in 1999 at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C.

She graduated magna cum laude last year with a double major in Spanish and English and had been a member of the college's English and Spanish honor societies.

Miss Arnold enjoyed the beach and had visited beaches in Hawaii, Mexico, Belize and the Philippines.

At her death, she was working as a waitress at the Sand Dunes Resort Hotel in Myrtle Beach while planning a career in pharmaceutical sales working in Spanish-speaking communities.

Gina Coffay, a pharmaceutical representative for Johnson & Johnson who lives in Phoenix, Baltimore County, recalled Miss Arnold's sensitive nature and excellent child care when Mrs. Coffay gave birth to triplets five years ago.

"Even though Marcie had a short life, she had a divine purpose to minister to other people. She was an angel to us," she said.

"It was hard when our triplets were little. Marcie was selfless and had so much love to give. God truly blessed us with her. When you read in the Bible about being a light in the world, she was truly that. It is hard to believe that someone could accomplish so much in such a short time," Mrs. Coffay said.

Edie M. Bernier, a lifelong friend who lives in Parkville, recalled Miss Arnold's concern for others.

"Everyone would go to her with their troubles and she had a great heart when it came to helping them. She was beautiful both inside and out," said Ms. Bernier.

Miss Arnold's godmother, Claudia Harris of Finksburg, said, "Marcie was everybody's child. She would light up a room when she walked into it."

In summing up her daughter's life, Mrs. Arnold recalled her daughter's independent spirit and their long conversations.

"At 23, we were becoming equals and we had wonderful talks about our lives," she said. "She was the backbone for all of her friends, helping them with their problems, picking them up and counseling them when they were in trouble. It amazes me, all the people she has touched in such a profound way."

Miss Arnold was a member of Grace Fellowship Church, 9505 Deereco Road, Timonium, where services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow.

In addition to her parents, she is survived by a brother, Robert C. Arnold Jr.; two sisters, Julie Arnold and Veronica Arnold; and her maternal grandparents, Dr. Humberto V. Certeza and Dorothy Certeza. All are of Parkville. Other survivors include uncles, aunts and cousins.

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