Lydia Owens Gillespie, a debutante and horsewoman who worked for 20 years as a medical research assistant at the Johns Hopkins University, died Friday of complications from Alzheimer's disease at Fairhaven retirement community in Sykesville. She was 82.
Born in Metuchen, N.J., she moved to England as a child, then to Baltimore, where her father, the late J. Hamilton Owens, was editor in chief of The Sunpapers from 1943 to 1956.
She grew up at the family home in Riderwood, graduated from Roland Park Country School in 1936 and made her debut at the Bachelors Cotillon. That year, she entered the Peabody Conservatory, where she earned a certificate in teaching violin.
At Peabody, she met Richard E. Gillespie, an upperclassman and a professional trumpet player, and the two were married in 1940. She taught violin and riding at McDonogh School while her husband was music director there from 1940 to 1952.
A brother, Gwinn Owens of Ruxton, recalled, "She had a wall full of ribbons from riding at horse shows all over the area."
In 1954, the couple moved to Burnwood Road in Northwood, and lived there until moving to Fairhaven in 1994. During the 1960s, Mrs. Gillespie became a research assistant to Dr. Horsley Gantt, a Pavlovian psychiatrist, and continued in that post for 20 years, Mr. Gillespie said.
"They worked mostly with dogs, and monkeys, too. She really enjoyed it, and the people she worked with," he said.
A member of the Maryland Ornithological Society, Mrs. Gillespie was an avid bird watcher, and she and her husband enjoyed camping.
Mrs. Gillespie also enjoyed nature photography and supported the Nature Conservancy.
An Episcopalian, her home parish was St. Thomas Church in Garrison.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Jan. 8. A location has not been determined.
In addition to her husband and brother, she is survived by a daughter, Mildred G. Ogletree of Columbia, N.C.; a son, John H. Gillespie of Davis, Calif.; a sister, Olga V. Owens of Chestertown; brothers James H. Owens Jr. of Ann Arbor, Mich., and Lloyd Owens of Winnetka, Ill.; and four grandchildren.