Mary Ann Dargan, 93, housekeeper, active church member and volunteer

July 11, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Mary Ann Dargan was known around Sandtown for three things: her penchant for hats -- she was seldom without one -- her large and happy family, and her church and volunteer work.

She and her husband raised their 13 children in a three-story rowhouse on North Mount Street, where she lived until 1981 when she moved to the home of a daughter on Westwood Avenue.

Mrs. Dargan, 93, who worked as a housekeeper for 20 years until retiring in 1971, died of cancer Sunday at her daughter's West Baltimore home.

The former Mary Ann Daniels was born the only daughter of a schoolteacher in Darlington, S.C., where she helped raise her four brothers and kept house for her father after the death of her mother.

After attending school there, she moved to Baltimore and in 1919 married Rufus Dargan, a minister and plumber, who died in 1980.

Mrs. Dargan, a small woman with boundless energy, was remembered by family members as a strict but loving parent and a person who was able to do a lot with little.

"She stood 5 feet 3 inches and she was the boss," a grandson, Ronald McCallum of Washington, said with a chuckle. "She was nice, but she was the boss and would take no foolishness off anyone."

"She knew how to work with a dollar, and with 13 kids you had to be a good cook," said a daughter, Evelyn McCallum of Baltimore.

She was known for her fried chicken, vegetables, salmon and rice and Norfolk spot, which had a wide following with neighbors as well as her family.

"When school was out for the summer, she didn't let us run the streets. She made us help her put up preserves and do canning," her daughter said. "She wasted nothing and used to say, 'We have to get ready for the winter.'

"She was so proud of her house. She'd hang blue shades and put down straw rugs for the summer. In winter, she'd swap the summer shades for ecru ones and lace curtains," Mrs. McCallum said.

"She never varied her routine. She washed clothes on Monday, scrubbed her white marble steps and rode the streetcar to do her marketing at the Lafayette [Market] and later Lexington Market on Fridays," her grandson recalled.

Mrs. Dargan's favorite saying, which she repeated over and over to her children, was: "Trust the Lord. Have God in your life. Get an education and make something out of your life."

"She was also really proud that she had sent sons to World War II and Korea and grandsons to Vietnam and that they all came home safe," said Mr. McCallum.

Known for her stylish millinery and demanding sense of manners and carriage, Mrs. Dargan never left home without her hat and gloves and exhorted her daughters to follow her ways.

"She'd look at me and my sisters and say, 'Look like a lady, act like a lady and be a lady at all times,' " Mrs. McCallum said.

A religious person, Mrs. Dargan was active in the affairs of St. John African Methodist Church, where she had been a member since 1923 and was active in the Pulpit Aid Club and Missionary Club.

She also was a member of the Annie Hitchen Aid Society at Provident Hospital and the Red Cross.

Services for Mrs. Dargan will be held at noon today at St. John AME Church, 810 N. Carrollton Ave., Baltimore.

She is survived by two sons, Wesley R. Dargan and John R. Dargan, both of Baltimore; three other daughters, Shirley M. Roane, Mary D. Foster and Pearl Dargan, all of Baltimore; a brother, Walford Daniels of Buffalo, N.Y.; 27 other grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 7/11/96

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