Friends of the late Graciela Carbonell gathered Saturday to host a benefit for the family of the longtime city employee who ran the Mount Rainier cable television station and was a driver in the city’s Call-A-Bus system.
Carbonell, 64, who lived in Colmar Manor and worked for the city of Mount Rainier for nearly 30 years, died Jan. 31 after a battle with uterine cancer.
“Her dedication was unmatched,” said Jeannelle Wallace, Mount Rainier city manager. “Even when her health started failing, she was still coming into work and still determined to get things done.”
Mount Rainier Mayor Malinda Miles said Carbonell was a dedicated worker and community advocate.
“She gave of her time and service above and beyond the job for which the city paid her,” Miles said. “I cannot say enough about her gift to our city.”
The benefit in Carbonell’s memory was organized by Councilman Jesse Christopherson (Ward 1) and City Clerk Janis Lomax to raise support for Carbonell’s family. Robert Page, Carbonell’s husband, said the benefit fund will help offset medical bills that were assessed and sent after Carbonell died, and both Carbonell and Page were subsequently dropped from her insurance plan.
“[Graciela Carbonell] was just a wonderful, very pleasant and giving person,” Lomax said. “I just thought it would be nice to help. Everything collected will be given to her family.”
The benefit had a suggested donation of $25 and included live performances from local artists, and food and alcohol donated by local businesses, Lomax said.
Carbonell was hired as the director of Mount Rainier TV in 1986 and led the taping, production and broadcasting of the mayor and council meetings. She also produced short, informative programs such as “Citi Scape” and “On Air with the Mayor,” Wallace said.
Carbonell would often stay at council meetings until around 11 p.m. and edit footage after business hours or on weekends, Wallace said.
Around 2003, Carbonell became the only full-time driver for the Call-A-Bus program, the city’s subsidized transportation system for elderly and disabled residents, Wallace said.
“The seniors that rode the Call-A-Bus, I guess you could say idolized her,” Wallace said. “They would bring pastries and give her little things like that to show their appreciation. She showed them so much care and concern; it just felt like she was family.”
Page said Carbonell was a behind-the-scenes worker who didn’t draw a lot of attention to herself.
“She ran from the camera, even though she operated them,” he said. “I had to sneak up on her to get her on camera.”
Page said Carbonell liked to garden, landscape and visit the beach. She was a proponent of environmentally friendly living and enjoyed pets, especially her chow dog, he said.
Carbonell is survived by Page and their son, Roberto Carbonell-Page, who lives in Glenn Dale.
“She was a very effective, very committed person,” Page said. “We had a pretty good time. It was a good journey, and she will be missed.”