Betty W. Nichols, 86, active in valleys preservation efforts

September 01, 1996|By Erica C. Harrington | Erica C. Harrington,SUN STAFF Fred Rasmussen contributed to this article.

Betty Wickes Nichols, who helped get the Worthington Valley in Baltimore County declared a part of the National Historic Trust in 1974, died of emphysema on Aug. 20 at her home in Glyndon. She was 86.

She was a member of the Valleys Planning Council, an association founded by residents in 1962 to protect, manage and preserve the rustic character of the Green Spring, Caves, Worthington and Western Run valleys.

Mrs. Nichols, an avid horse rider and breeder, had a particular interest in the Worthington Valley, where she lived most of her life and where the Grand National and Maryland Hunt Cup steeplechase races are run.

She organized neighbors concerned about the expansion of road and sewer systems into the Worthington Valley and led the research for identifying landmarks.

"She had a deep emotional commitment to protecting natural space she enjoyed as a consumer and a horse racer," said her son, DeWitt Sage Jr. of Greenwich, Conn. "She thought it would be a crime to destroy something the public enjoyed."

The former Betty Wickes was born in Baltimore and grew up at Wickcliffe, the family estate in the Green Spring Valley, which is now part of Maryvale Preparatory School for Girls in Brooklandville.

She was a 1927 graduate of the Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Va., and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Her father raced horses, and her lifelong interest in them began in childhood. She was one of the first women to win a point-to-point steeplechase in the 1930s and actively bred horses until the early 1980s, family members said.

She moved to Glyndon in 1937 with her first husband, DeWitt Linn Sage Sr. They divorced in 1953.

Her marriage to Thomas S. Nichols, former president of the Olin-Mathieson Chemical Corp., from 1954 to 1956 also ended in divorce

Mrs. Nichols was a board member of the Evergreen House Foundation in Baltimore and the Ladew Gardens and a trustee of Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday at St. Thomas' Episcopal Church, St. Thomas Lane in Garrison Forest.

Other survivors include two daughters, Linn Sage Roulon-Miller and Nancy Wickes Shea, both of New York City; a brother, Walter F. Wickes of Unionville, Pa.; two sisters, Nancy Wickes Shaw of Ruxton and Kitty Wickes Alexander of Green Spring Valley; and five grandchildren.

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