Sibyl D. Bernard, 86, helped restore Stewart HouseSibyl D...

June 22, 1996

Sibyl D. Bernard, 86, helped restore Stewart House

Sibyl D. Bernard, who, with her husband, restored Annapolis' Peggy Stewart House, died June 15 of cancer at her home in the Ginger Cove retirement community. She was 86.

In 1952, she and her husband, J. Pierre Bernard, whom she married in 1941, became the 12th owners of the historic Peggy Stewart House at 207 Hanover St., opposite the Naval Academy.

Built between 1761 and 1764, the house originally was the home of Anthony Stewart, a merchant, and his wife, Jeanne. In October 1774, Stewart was confronted by a gathering of Annapolis citizens who refused to allow him to unload his brigantine after learning he had paid a British tax on its cargo of tea.

He offered to burn the vessel and cargo, which resulted in one of the city's most celebrated incidents of the Revolutionary War.

The house, a sturdy brick structure, was the victim of a historically inaccurate restoration in 1894. But the Bernards painstakingly restored it to historical accuracy and filled its rooms with period furniture.

The couple sold the house in 1988 and moved to Ginger Cove. Mr. Bernard, retired chairman of Annapolis Banking and Trust Co. and a founder of Historic Annapolis Inc., died in 1993.

Born in Philadelphia, the former Sibyl Darlington was raised in Rosemont. She graduated from Bishop's School in La Jolla, Calif., in 1928. After spending several years during the 1930s studying art in Europe, she returned to New York City, where she and Mr. Bernard met.

Mrs. Bernard's interests ranged from animal protection to gardening, flower arranging and languages. She was fluent in French, German and Spanish. She was active in Historic Annapolis and was a member of the National Society of Colonial Dames, the Christ Child Society, Four Rivers Garden Club and Friends of Winterthur.

She also was a member of the Mount Vernon Club, the Annapolis Yacht Club and the Army-Navy Club of Washington.

Mrs. Bernard was a communicant of St. Mary Roman Catholic Church in Annapolis, where a memorial Mass was held yesterday

She is survived by two daughters, Sibyl Julia O'Malley of Philadelphia and Olivia Bernard of Northampton, Mass.; three grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

Mary J. Conner, 80, homemaker, church deacon

Mary J. Conner, a homemaker who was an elder and deacon at Lochearn Presbyterian Church, died Monday of cancer at her Ellicott City home. She was 80.

An Ellicott City resident for 23 years, Mrs. Conner had lived in Houston and Westfield, N.J., with her husband, William M. Conner, whom she married in 1939. Mr. Conner was a former FBI agent who became an auditor with Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey. He died in 1991.

Born in Washington, the former Mary Johnston was raised in Silver Spring and was a 1933 graduate of Roosevelt High School there. After graduation, she worked in New York City as a secretary until the late 1930s when she returned to Washington.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. today at the Lochearn church, 3800 Patterson Ave.

She is survived by two daughters, Lynn C. Tuttle-Cipnic of Austin, Texas, and Elizabeth D'Arcy McGalin of Hempstead, Texas; and two grandchildren.

William F. Blair Sr., 81, operated contracting firm

William F. Blair Sr., who operated a general contracting firm for 40 years and who liked to hold family gatherings, died Wednesday of emphysema at his Stoneleigh residence. He was 81.

Mr. Blair owned and managed Yorkleigh Contractors, which he established in 1954 and closed in 1994, when he retired. Earlier, he had worked for his father, who owned Blair & Sons, a construction company.

Born one of 10 children in Secretary, in Dorchester County, Mr. Blair moved to Govans with his family and attended local schools. He left after eighth grade to work with his father to help support the family.

In the early years of World War II, he worked at South Baltimore's old Maryland Drydock Co. building Victory ships until he went to work as a civilian employee of the Army Corps of Engineers in Trinidad, the West Indies.

Mr. Blair was a lifelong baseball fan who had an opportunity to play ball in the old Eastern Shore League, but turned it down because of family obligations. He liked to tell of seeing Babe Ruth at the requiem Mass at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in 1928 for Jack Dunn, the legendary Orioles owner.

His family parties were notable for his homemade crab soup, crab cakes and shrimp salad.

Mr. Blair and his wife of 54 years, the former Anne Horner, had been foster parents and also provided a home for several years for two handicapped children.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today at St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church, York and Overbrook roads, Rodgers Forge, where he was a communicant.

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