Charles E. Hilgenberg, 92, rancher, collector, traveler

July 06, 2002

Charles Edward Hilgenberg, a former rancher in Frederick County, died June 28 of heart failure at the William Hill Manor Retirement Community in Easton. He was 92.

Mr. Hilgenberg was one of three children of the late Carl R. and Angelica H. (Gardiner) Hilgenberg of Baltimore. The family lived in Guilford.

A 1928 graduate of Gilman School, he earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia in 1932. He traveled in Europe and studied at the University of Grenoble in Switzerland and the Sorbonne in France.

He returned home to work as a sales representative for his father's company, the Carr Lowrey Glass Co., working first in Baltimore and then in the New York office. He developed a large customer base for the company's glass-container manufacturing business.

Mr. Hilgenberg was a passenger on the Pan Am Dixie Clipper on June 28, 1939, the first commercial passenger flight to cross the North Atlantic.

In 1942, he enlisted in the Army Air Forces. He served as an adjutant in the 886th Squadron in San Antonio. He later was stationed in Italy and was honorably discharged with the rank of captain at the close of World War II.

He returned to New York to find he had a mild case of polio. He recuperated with his family in Baltimore before buying a cattle ranch north of San Antonio in 1947 with an Air Force friend. He named it Vamarie Ranch for a Navy yawl.

Mr. Hilgenberg returned to Maryland in 1952 and moved to Araby, a historic farm near Frederick. He restored the mansion and raised Black Angus cattle.

"He enjoyed the ranching, and when he came back east, he brought that with him," said nephew John Hilgenberg of Stevenson.

Nieces and nephews enjoyed visiting the ranch and riding around it in their uncle's Jeep.

Mr. Hilgenberg's first and second marriages ended in divorce.

In 1960, he retired with his wife, Anne Crawford Johnson Hilgenberg, to the Eastern Shore, and soon built a home, Windsong, in Royal Oak. After her death, he wed Florence Gilbert Tucker, now deceased.

Mr. Hilgenberg enjoyed traveling, and took many trips to Europe. He also collected antiques, and knew the history of his antiques, his nephew said.

He was a member of the Maryland Club.

A graveside service will be held at 11:30 a.m. July 13 at Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville.

Mr. Hilgenberg is survived by a stepson, F. Lewis Carlisle of Easton; two stepdaughters, Denise Evans Alexandre LeCompte of Greenwich, Conn., and Ilse S. Rollow of Washington; and numerous nieces and nephews.

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