Barbara L. Keyser, 87, managed family farm

December 30, 2003

Barbara Longcope Keyser, longtime manager of Jones' Contrivance, her family's Reisterstown farm, died there Dec. 23 of respiratory failure. She was 87.

She was born Barbara Longcope in New York City, the daughter of Dr. Warfield Theobald Longcope. She moved to Baltimore in the early 1920s, after her father, a noted professor of internal medicine, was appointed to the faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Mrs. Keyser was a 1933 graduate of Bryn Mawr School and earned her bachelor's degree in art history from Bryn Mawr College in 1937.

In 1939, she married William Fenwick Keyser, who purchased the Union News, a Towson weekly, in 1940. He also was the newspaper's publisher and editor -- roles his wife assumed during World War II, when he was in the Navy. In 1967, he sold the newspaper to The Jeffersonian, also a weekly. He died in 1968.

As a wedding gift to the newlyweds, Mr. Keyser's mother, Jean Hancy Keyser, presented the couple with Brentwood, a farm on the Patapsco River near Reisterstown that had originally been the family's summer home.

The couple renamed the property Jones' Contrivance, the name that originally appeared in the Colonial-era deed. They replaced a Victorian-era farmhouse in 1941 with a Georgian-style house designed by Lawrence Hall Fowler, a noted Baltimore architect.

They also had a herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle on their farm. Besides managing the farm's herd books, Mrs. Keyser also raised and sold pheasant and chukar partridge and oversaw a weekly egg delivery business to Baltimore residents.

Mrs. Keyser had served on the boards of Calvert School, Women's Hospital and Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

She also was a longtime trustee of the Baltimore Museum of Art, where she helped found and develop a sales and rental gallery in the 1950s that provided contemporary artwork on consignment from New York galleries.

Mrs. Keyser was also an accomplished needleworker and photographer. She enjoyed spending time at a second home that she maintained in Porto Ercole, Italy.

She was a member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Garrison. Plans for a memorial service were incomplete yesterday.

Mrs. Keyser is survived by a son, Michael Keyser of Butler; two daughters, Belinda Keyser Kaye and Susanna Keyser Borghese, both of New York City; a sister, Mary Lee Johansen of Lee, Mass.; and four grandchildren.

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