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Nellie ‘Lee’ Cardwell Carney, 83, former commissioner of South Carolina Commission for the Blind

Nellie 'Lee' Cardwell Carney
Nellie ‘Lee’ Cardwell Carney

WILMINGTON — Nellie “Lee” Cardwell Carney, 83, died Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, at home.

Nell was born June 28, 1935, in Anderson County, Tennessee, daughter of the late Robert and Mazie Owenby Cardwell.

Mrs. Nell “Lee” Carney took her academic career very seriously, though she was blind, she proved to herself and others that a strong will is all that is needed to get things done. Mrs. Nell Carney began her strong academic career by first achieving valedictorian of her high school graduating class at Watkins Institute in Nashville Tennessee, and then receiving a B.S. degree in 1974, then her M.A. degree in 1975 from George Peabody College for Teachers, where she graduated with honors and majored in special education, and finally, she was awarded the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Northern Colorado.

Mrs. Nell “Lee” Carney had no shortage of accomplishments within her career, among her most prestigious were her 2000 appointment as the commissioner of the South Carolina Commission for the Blind, preceded by her 1989 presidential appointment as commissioner of the U.S. Dept. of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration, a position she held until 1993. From 1993 to 1997 she served as the Executive Director of the Mississippi Dept. of Rehabilitation Services and, from 1985 to 1989, as the administrator of the Virginia Dept. of Services for the Visually Impaired. She also worked as education coordinator and counselor at the Washington State Services for the Blind in Seattle, and as the superintendent of the New Mexico School for the Visually Impaired.

Mrs. Nell “Lee” Carney was a very special woman, so special in fact that she has a day dedicated to her from former mayor of Nashville Tennessee, Bill Boner. She is also recognized as having demonstrated outstanding leadership and achievement in her occupation and is a member of Who’s Who Worldwide, where she is included in their Registry of Business Leaders. A final award, the Order of the Silver Crescent, was given on behalf of the people of South Carolina due to her exemplary contributions to the Palmetto State and is the highest honor for volunteer and community service.

She is survived by her loving husband of 46 years, James T. Carney; brother, Robert Cardwell; and niece, Sandy Cardwell.

The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 13, at Andrews Market Street Chapel. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 14, at United Advent Christian Church, 4912 S. College Road, with the Rev. Sam Worley officiating. Interment will follow in Greenlawn Memorial Park.

Share online condolences with the family at Andrews Mortuary & Crematory.

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