Hubbard rode to hounds until age 95

December 27, 1993|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

Wilbur Ross Hubbard, who at 97 was believed to be the oldest Master of Foxhounds in the world and was widely known for his historic preservation efforts, died Thursday of old age at Widehall, his historic home in Chestertown.

The Eastern Shore native began fox-hunting in 1908 at the age of 12. He remained active in the sport until he was 95.

Celebrated in national and international fox-hunting circles, he presided over some of the best hunting on the East Coast for nearly 60 years.

"It was excellent hunting. He had a great pack of Penn-Marydel hounds," said Margaret Haight of Litchfield, Conn., who, with her husband Sherman, rode in Mr. Hubbard's hunting parties for over 40 years.

Mr. Hubbard was equally praised for his historic preservation bTC efforts in Chestertown, where he spearheaded a number of restoration projects.

Some of his most important were the restoration of the Buck-Bacchus Store, the Geddes-Piper House and the Hynson-Ringgold House, which serves as the home of the president of Washington College. Mr. Hubbard was a trustee emeritus of the college.

He also restored the Customs House on the Chester River near Widehall. The brick building, which dates to the early part of the 18th century, is said to be the nation's second oldest customs house still standing.

In recognition of his historic preservation work, Washington College awarded Mr. Hubbard an honorary doctorate of public service in 1986. He received a service award in 1991 from the Maryland Historical Trust for his preservation activities in Chestertown.

Mr. Hubbard attended the old Tome School in Port Deposit and graduated from Yale in 1920 and received a law degree from George Washington University in 1923.

He served in World War I as a second lieutenant in a horse-drawn field artillery unit stationed on the East Coast. For years he led the Veterans Day parade in Chestertown as the oldest veteran.

Mr. Hubbard served as a delegate from Kent County in the General Assembly in the mid-1930s.

He had business interests in Baltimore, but by 1953 he had retired to Widehall.

Built in 1769, the Georgian-style mansion on the Chester River was purchased by Mr. Hubbard's parents, Wilbur and Etta Hubbard, in 1910. He continued their restoration of the house.

One of the more interesting features of the home that Mr. Hubbard enjoyed showing to visitors was the hanging mahogany staircase. Its construction, with no supports visible, is considered an architectural feat.

Mr. Hubbard became Master of the Foxhounds of Kent County in 1931.

He bred his own horses for the hunt as well as his pack of Penn-Marydel hounds, said Arthur Brown, who worked for Mr. Hubbard as huntsman for 42 years.

Mr. Brown said Mr. Hubbard, who hunted the hounds along the East Coast hunt circuit, also hunted in Ireland and England. Fox-hunting colleagues came to Chesterton from Ireland and Canada for his ninetieth birthday.

At age 95 he told an interviewer that his 65 hounds and the hunt were his key to longevity.

Mr. Hubbard was a member of the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club, the Elkridge-Harford Hunt, the Bachelors Cotillon and the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Maryland. He had been president of the Chestertown Rotary Club.

Services for Mr. Hubbard will be held Jan. 5 at 11 a.m. at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Chestertown.

He is survived by two nieces, Hilles Morris Garlick of Taos, N.M., and Patricia Young of New York City; and a nephew, Hugh Ross Morris of Santa Fe, N.M.

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