Clifford M. Kendall, 86, lived in Bethesda. He founded Computer Data Systems Inc. and Community Foundation for Montgomery County and served on the Board of Regents for the University System of Maryland. Credit: Via University System of Maryland

Clifford M. Kendall, a community leader and philanthropist, died Wednesday night after a short illness. Kendall, 86, had been diagnosed Friday with pancreatic cancer, according to his son, Clark Kendall.

Kendall, a Bethesda resident, founded, ran and eventually sold Computer Data Systems Inc., a government contractor. He was a leader in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., business communities, and was a former chairman of the Technology Council of Maryland and the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

Kendall was well known for his leadership in the community and philanthropy. He was a co-founder of the Community Foundation for Montgomery County and served on the Board of Regents for the University System of Maryland for 10 years, eight as chairman.

For years, he and his wife, Camille Kendall, have given full scholarships to students attending Montgomery College and the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) in Rockville.

Robert L. Caret, chancellor of the University System of Maryland (USM), noted Thursday in a statement that Kendall was a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, who was “a true and lifelong friend not only to his alma mater, but also to the entire University System of Maryland.”

The Kendalls contributed “millions of dollars to fund initiatives—from student scholarships to the establishment of The Universities at Shady Grove—that made higher education for Maryland students more affordable and accessible,” Caret said, adding that “tens of thousands of USM students have already benefited from his generosity and stewardship, and his legacy will live on for generations to come.”

Caret, who first met Kendall in 1995, also noted that Kendall’s legacy extends beyond his achievements in business and education-related philanthropy. “Cliff was a truly good, humane and gracious man, which is how his many friends will remember him,” Caret said.

Clark Kendall said Thursday that his father’s “hallmark was to give back to help people help themselves through education.”

Sally Rudney, who was the founding executive director of the Community Foundation for Montgomery County, said Kendall was a “true leader” who got his greatest satisfaction from helping students. “He really enjoyed getting to know them,” said Rudney, now a philanthropy adviser.

Nichole Land of Rockville, a former Kendall scholar recipient at USG, said she was able to complete her four-year degree “because of Cliff Kendall’s generosity.”

“He was not only a donor, but an active supporter of the students whose lives he touched,” said Land, who graduated in 2014 with a degree in communications from the University of Maryland College Park program at USG. “He would always ask me how I was doing and would tell me how proud he was of me.” 

Camille and Cliff Kendall with Nichole Land, a Kendall scholar recipient at the Universities at Shady Grove. Photo courtesy of Nichole Land.