Dolores J. "Dolly" Sherwood, a special education English teacher and department head at Old Mill High School for three decades, died of breast cancer Monday at her Severna Park home. She was 59.
She was born Dolores Joan Pascal in St. Louis, and raised in Catonsville where her family had moved in 1947. After graduating from Catonsville High School, she earned a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Baltimore.
Mrs. Sherwood had planned to become a lawyer, but a dean at the University of Baltimore - where she was a pre-law student - suggested she try teaching.
"He saw in Dolly that she had an ability for teaching and suggested she give it a try for a year. She did, and never looked back," said her husband of 32 years, John A. Sherwood, a brokerage director with Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.
Mrs. Sherwood earned an administration certificate for grades K-12 and a master's degree in special education from Coppin State University.
After three years of teaching in Baltimore public schools, she became chairwoman of the special education department at what was then Lindale Junior High, then joined the faculty of Old Mill High at its opening in 1975. Both schools are in Anne Arundel County.
Mrs. Sherwood helped to design - and then taught - after-school drug-abuse prevention classes at Old Mill. She also sponsored and did choreography for the award-winning Old Mill High pom-pom squad for several years.
"One of my fondest memories is how she cared and supported our special ed students. She was both loving and kind, and was knowledgeable about their problems," said Ken Lawson, a former principal of Old Mill and now deputy superintendent of Anne Arundel County public schools.
"She was an important part of the fabric of Old Mill, and when she got sick and was receiving chemotherapy treatments, she still came to school. It was evidence of her devotion to Old Mill and her students," Mr. Lawson said.
In addition to coordinating the activities of her 16-member department, Mrs. Sherwood assisted new teachers as well as looking out for colleagues who needed someone to talk to - or pray with.
"This is something I've just begun letting people know, that Dolly and I were prayer partners who met in my office on a weekly basis. I wanted people to know that special side of her," said Deborah Y. Hunt, assistant principal at Old Mill.
"Most students don't mind a substitute teacher, but when she was ill, Dolly's kids only wanted her. Many of her former students returned to school for visits because they wanted to keep her updated on their lives," said Sean A. Swanson, who heads the English department at Old Mill.
Mrs. Sherwood was a longtime member and former president of the Rho chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International since 1982, and an active member of Chartwell Golf and Country Club.
She was an avid traveler, baker, singer and gardener, and an accomplished oil painter.
She was a member of various groups including a choir at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, 611 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd. in Severna Park, where services will be held at 4 p.m. today.
Surviving, in addition to her husband, are a daughter, Rachel M. Sherwood of Severna Park, a student at the University of Maryland School of Nursing; a brother, Robert C. Pascal of Ellicott City; and a sister, Martha J. Burlay of Catonsville.