Barbara S. Dannettel, Stevenson University board director, dies

She had also served on the boards of Believe in Tomorrow and the College of Notre Dame of Maryland

December 24, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun | Baltimore Sun reporter

Barbara S. Dannettel, a former Comcast public relations director who later was on the board of Stevenson University, died Dec. 13 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium.

The Sparks resident was 69.

Barbara Smith, the daughter of an engineer and a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised in Guilford. She was a 1959 graduate of the old Mount St. Agnes High School in Mount Washington.

She earned an associate's degree from what was then Villa Julie College in Stevenson, and a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1984 from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.

Mrs. Dannettel returned to the College of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in adulthood and aging. In 2005, she earned a certificate in theological education from the University of the South at Sewanee, Tenn.

During her 40-year career, Mrs. Dannettel worked both in the business and academic world.

After graduating from Villa Julie, she worked as a medical secretary for Dr. Leo Brady in the Medical Arts Building. After his retirement in 1965, she became a homemaker and raised her family.

Returning to work a decade later, Mrs. Dannettel became a medical secretary in the department of nuclear medicine at St. Joseph Medical Center, and later became the personal secretary for the department's head.

Mrs. Dannettel was hired in the early 1980s by Caltec Cable as executive assistant to the company's president, and remained in that position until the company was purchased by Comcast in 1984.

She worked in public relations and community affairs for Comcast until retiring in 2009.

At Comcast, her career focused on many community-oriented and government affairs. She also oversaw the Comcast Student Achievement Program, which awarded scholarships for higher education to one student at each public high school that Comcast serves.

"Barbara was a very special person and the first employee at Caltec. She was the glue that held things together. The company was her life," said Dr. Leonard Berger, former Comcast president.

"She was very bright, and I often leaned on her for information. She got along with everyone and was able to bring them together," he said. "Barbara was very accommodating and could make any situation better. She was loyal, honest and hardworking."

Mrs. Dannettel served on the board of the Believe in Tomorrow Foundation, formerly the Grant-A-Wish Foundation, and the executive board of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.

She had also served as chairman of the education committee of the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce and president of the Mount St. Agnes High School Alumni Association.

A longtime member of the board of Stevenson University, she later served as president from 2008 to 2010 of the Stevenson University Alumni Board.

In addition to her work with the board, she was a strong supporter of academics and athletics at the Green Spring Valley university, and was thrilled that her youngest son, Benjamin Brett Berquist, who lives in Sparks, had joined the men's lacrosse coaching staff at Stevenson.

"She was a great supporter of Stevenson University," said Kevin Manning, the university's president."She was also a supporter of all the changes that had taken place at Villa Julie in recent years, such as the process and the name change. She was a very positive person," he said.

When the university dedicated its new athletic center at its Owings Mills campus in October, Mrs. Dannettel attended.

"It meant a lot that she was there and we were happy that she could come," Mr. Manning said.

She had been a communicant of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, where she had been president of the Women of Emmanuel Episcopal Church.

At her death, she was a parishioner of St. James Episcopal Church in Parkton, which she had attended up until two weeks ago.

Before moving to Sparks, she enjoyed entertaining at her home, Century House in White Hall, where she lived with her husband of 32 years, Charles Dannettel, who died in 2008.

Mrs. Dannettel was a fan of opera and classical music. She enjoyed collecting art and Early American antiques and visiting beaches in Ocean City and Rehoboth, Del.

Services were Monday at the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation.

Also surviving are two other sons, Timothy C. Berquist of Arnold and Stephen B. Berquist of Bishopville; her mother, Marcia O. Smith of De Bary, Fla.; three stepdaughters, Elizabeth A. Dannettel and Mary Margaret Dannettel, both of Westminster, and Nancy K. Delahanty of Avondale, Pa.; a brother, C. Henry Smith III of North Carolina; two sisters, Lynn Wickenden of Bel Air and Sue Ellen Tharp of De Bary, Fla.; and 15 grandchildren. A stepson, R.C. Dannettel III, died in 1996. An earlier marriage to Alfred Berquist ended in divorce.

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