Phyllis G. McCardell, 78, social worker who helped expand Keswick services

October 24, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Phyllis G. McCardell, a social worker who helped expand services for patients at Keswick Multi-Care Center and was the widow of a well-known Baltimore banker, died of stroke complications Tuesday at the Roland Park nursing facility. She was 78.

Mrs. McCardell, who lived in the Poplar Hill neighborhood of North Baltimore, was born Phyllis Green in Philadelphia and raised in Collingswood, N.J.

She earned her bachelor's degree in sociology and economics from Hood College in 1945, the same year she married Adrian LeRoy McCardell Jr. The couple moved to Norfolk, Va., and later Charleston, W.Va., where she was an active volunteer.

The McCardells moved to Baltimore in 1958, when Mr. McCardell became an officer with First National Bank. Mr. McCardell, who was later president and chairman of the bank, died in August.

After raising the couple's two children and volunteering for causes including cerebral palsy and United Way, Mrs. McCardell resumed her education and earned a master's degree in sociology from the University of Maryland School of Social Work in 1967.

She was a social work researcher at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine from 1968 until 1972, and then put her social work background to use when she began volunteering at Keswick in 1974.

"Her husband was on the board of Keswick and that's when she became involved. She functioned as a full-time unpaid social worker," said Willene J. Smith, director of public relations at the nursing facility on 40th Street. "She dictated notes, documented the records and did everything a regularly paid social worker does. She brought a lot of expertise to the table and was a very valuable person. She did this because she believed in Keswick."

Mrs. Smith added, "She was extremely easygoing and loved working with the patients. What she did was be an advocate for the resident and bridged the gap between the physicians and nurses. She also worked to resolve social issues and problems with families."

Mrs. McCardell often wore the designs of noted fashion designer Claire McCardell, her sister-in-law.

"One of the things that impressed me right off was the way she dressed," Mrs. Smith said. "She was a beautiful woman and always impeccably dressed, and in the classic manner."

Mrs. McCardell continued working at Keswick through the late 1980s. She also was an accomplished needleworker and dollhouse builder, and a former president of the Baltimore chapter of the Embroiderers Guild of America.

In 1973, a needlepoint chair of Mrs. McCardell's that was inspired by motifs of 15th-, 16th- and early 17th-century tapestries won the needlepoint on canvas award presented by the organization Amateur Needlework of Today Inc. in New York.

Mrs. McCardell also enjoyed building - from scratch - detailed, hand-crafted dollhouses that she illuminated with diminutive electric lights. She fashioned most of the miniature furniture for their rooms.

"She made all the needlepoint rugs and used a No. 18 canvas - which requires over 300 stitches per square inch," said her daughter, Katharine McCardell Webb of Richmond, Va.

Mrs. McCardell collected antique furniture and rugs. She was also a member of the Elkridge Club.

She was a communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., where funeral services will be held in the chapel at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Mrs. McCardell also is survived by a son, Adrian L. McCardell III of Reston, Va., and three grandchildren.

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