Sharon Donoghue Knisely dies

Social Security analyst was president of the Archbishop Keough Alumnae Association

April 26, 2010|By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun

Sharon Donoghue Knisely, a retired Social Security Administration analyst who headed the Archbishop Keough Alumnae Association, died April 16 on Frederick Road when she lost control of the motorcycle she was driving. She was 58 and lived in Catonsville.

Born Sharon Marie Donoghue in Baltimore and raised on Wilkens Avenue, she attended St. Benedict's School. In 1965, she was among the first students to enroll at the new girls' Roman Catholic high school named after Archbishop Francis P. Keough.

"Everybody knew Sharon. She was spirited, funny and she was always a worker," said Trish Cook, a classmate who is now acting head of the school's alumnae association. "She was an organized person who had fantastic people skills. She was good with names. She was good with time management."

She recalled that Ms. Knisely's breezy personality and personal style helped her recruit volunteers for the organizations she ran. When people turned her down, she smiled and said, "I'll catch you the next time."

"She could cajole you into doing things you thought you might not want to do," said Ms. Cook.

While at Keough she acted in plays and was a cheerleader before her 1969 graduation. She was also a baton twirler and marched in parades on a weekly schedule. She taught baton twirling and cheerleading long after she left the school.

"She loved life, loved to have a good time," said her son, Carey Sczepucha of Catonsville. "She loved to be out. She hated to be home."

Mr. Sczepucha described his mother as a high-energy, outgoing person who spoke to everyone.

"She led the pack. She was always planning or organizing something," he said.

As a young woman, she became a systems analyst at the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn. She retired in 2006.

She was active in the schools her children attended. She was president of Our Lady of Victory School's Home School Association. She was the school's girls' cheerleading coach, a post she retained long after her daughter had graduated.

"Sharon was incredibly vivacious. She brought a breath of fresh air into a room," said the school's principal, Thomas Riddle. "She never seemed to be tired."

About the time she retired from the Social Security Administration, she took on another role as president of her high school alumnae association. Friends said she worked to set up current files and a database of names for the students who attended the school from 1965 to 1988, when it merged with Seton High School.

"She never said ‘No' when asked to help. She had a totally unselfish lifestyle," said Anita Iampieri Hook, a friend and classmate. "If she undertook a cause, there was nothing she would not do for it."

She remained alumnae association president until her death. Friends said she wanted the traditions established by her classmates in the school's first graduating class to be passed down to current students. She also raised scholarship funds.

A Mass was offered Thursday at Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church.

In addition to her son, survivors include her husband of 21 years, James Knisely; a daughter, Krista Knisely of Catonsville; two brothers, Jim Donoghue of Catonsville and Butch Donoghue of Arbutus; her mother, Frances Donoghue of Baltimore; and three grandchildren. Her marriage to Stanley Sczepucha ended in divorce.

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