Gray N. W. Salmons, 82, active in national, state and local garden clubs

December 26, 2004

Gray Norton Worthington Salmons, an environmentalist and gardener, died Tuesday of complications from a stroke at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air. The Churchville resident was 82.

Born in Charlotte, N.C., she moved to Baltimore when she was young. She graduated from Forest Park High School and earned a bachelor's degree from Maryland Institute College of Art.

She met John D. Worthington III during World War II before she graduated. Although Mr. Worthington was not called to duty, the war forced the bride to be resourceful in pooling ration stamps for their wedding reception at the Baltimore Country Club.

The couple lived on the Worthingtons' Aquila Hall Farm in Churchville.

In 1948, she began a lifelong association with garden clubs. Among them: the Garden Club of America, the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland and the Garden Club of Harford County. From 1991 to 1993, she served as a national director of the Garden Club of America. In 2002, the group awarded her emeritus status as an artistic judge.

"My mother got me involved in garden club activities over 20 years ago. I was in awe of her many accomplishments, especially at the national level. It was not only the number of positions she held, but the fact that mother was involved with the GCA and our local garden club for over 55 years," said her daughter, Bunny Worthington Barnes of Havre de Grace.

Home life kept Mrs. Salmons busy, especially after Mr. Worthington took over the family business as publisher of The Aegis newspaper in 1964.

"Like many women of her generation, Mom did the heavy lifting when it came to raising the children. While dad was off putting out the paper, she was the one who took us on vacations, got us ready to go off to school, handled the discipline and did a hundred other tasks," said son John D. Worthington IV of Bel Air, the fourth generation to carry on the family tradition as Aegis publisher. The Aegis is owned by the Baltimore Sun Co.

Mrs. Salmons was an avid traveler whose trips took her all over the world, but she was happiest at the farm or her beach house. Among her son's most treasured memories were summers spent at "The Happy House at Fenwick" - Mrs. Salmons' nickname for her waterfront home in Ocean City.

Mrs. Salmons felt so strongly about preserving the environment that she wouldn't hesitate to take county commissioners to task for cutting down trees for a shopping center or trying to fill in wetlands or streams.

Mr. Worthington died in 1978, and she married E. Franklin Salmons of Churchville in 1981.

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at First Presbyterian Church of Bel Air, 224 N. Main Street, Bel Air.

In addition to her son and daughter, Mrs. Salmons is survived by her husband; another son, Randall P. Worthington Sr. of Churchville; stepdaughter Lynn S. Bower of Cockeysville; stepson James F. Salmons of Fairfield, Iowa; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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