Sheila McC. Jackson, 76, master of hounds for 11 years

November 12, 1997|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Sheila McC. Jackson, a former master of hounds at Green Spring Valley Hunt Club, died of cancer yesterday at Jackson's Hole Farm in Upperco, where she lived. She was 76.

Mrs. Jackson began riding to hounds as a child in Fairfield County, Conn., and it became a lifelong passion that she reluctantly gave up four years ago.

In 1965, she was named master of hounds at the club, which was founded in 1892. She was the second woman to be named to the post, which she held until 1976.

"To have a lady master of the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club says much about her abilities. She really knew what she was doing," said Walter W. Brewster, a Baltimore stockbroker and former master of hounds.

On cool autumn mornings in the Maryland countryside, the petite Mrs. Jackson would be outfitted in a navy Melton riding coat, breeches, black boots and a riding helmet, holding a riding crop in one hand.

After the huntsman's call on his hunting horn, she would lead the riders into the field and the chase would begin in earnest.

The traditional fox hunt has been replaced by what is called fox chasing. The fox is pursued but not killed and no guns are carried.

"The thrill of the sport is when you have 30 riders, the scent of a fox and the cry of the hounds. For [Mrs. Jackson], galloping over the countryside was totally exhilarating," said a daughter, Catherine Eileen "Cappy" Jackson of Monkton.

Known as a tough rider and strict disciplinarian, Mrs. Jackson's advice to participants was simple and direct.

"Because the race is spread over 20 miles and many privately owned farms, she'd say in her slightly raspy voice, 'Be considerate of others. Stop talking so much. We're here to fox hunt, not socialize,' " Catherine Jackson said.

Another daughter, Sheila Jackson Brown of Upperco, master of the Green Spring Valley Hunt, laughed as she recalled her mother's telling the talkers to "stop that coffeehousing."

"It's a sport that requires a great deal of stamina and endurance. You have to be a little crazy and a little careful because you never know where you're going to go," Mrs. Brown said.

"She took many spills and broke almost every bone in her body during her lifetime riding. She's been knocked out, stepped on by horses, suffered broken legs, collarbones and ribs. Very little ever fazed her," Ms. Jackson said.

Born in New York City and raised in Greenwich, Conn., the former Sheila McCreery was a 1938 graduate of the Foxcroft School in Virginia. She earned bachelor's degrees in nursing in 1942 from the Greenwich Hospital School of Nursing and in 1945 from the Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Nursing.

In 1950, she married Richard Newton Jackson, an architect, and the couple worked their 500-acre Upperco farm, which dates to the 18th century.

Her husband died in 1971, and Mrs. Jackson and her son, Richard McCreery "Mac" Jackson of Upperco, operated the farm, raising Angus cattle, corn, wheat and soybeans.

"She was at home either on the back of a horse or in the seat of a tractor," Ms. Jackson said.

Mrs. Jackson was a member of the Baltimore County Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Board and the Future Farmers of America. During the 1980s, she led an FFA delegation to China.

She was also a member of the Mount Vernon Club and the Garden Club of Twenty.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Friday at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 232 St. Thomas Lane in Owings Mills.

Other survivors include a sister, Joan McCreery Gerster of Greenwich; and four grandchildren.

Pub Date: 11/12/97

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