Beatrice H. Marty

[ Age 88] The conservationist, a cousin of actress Katharine Hepburn, helped protect Assateague from development.

January 25, 2007|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Beatrice Houghton "Beatie" Marty, a conservationist who worked to save Assateague Island from development and was a cousin of actress Katharine Hepburn, died of heart failure Monday at her Belfast Road farm in northern Baltimore County. She was 88.

Beatrice Houghton Hooker was born and raised in Baltimore. She was a descendant of Thomas Hooker, who founded Hartford, Conn., in 1636, and the daughter of Dr. Donald Russell Hooker, a Johns Hopkins physiologist whose pioneering research led to the development of the defibrillator.

Her mother, Edith Houghton Hooker, was a prominent suffragist, birth control advocate and a founder of Planned Parenthood of Maryland.

Mrs. Marty was the niece of Katharine Houghton Hepburn, whose daughter, Katharine Hepburn, was a frequent guest at her family's home on St. George's Road in North Baltimore.

It was Mrs. Marty's mother who encouraged her niece to pursue a stage career.

"Kath had come down to Baltimore to talk to Mother. The two of them were very close. Anyway, Mother was a frustrated actress who had wanted to go on stage, but in those day it wasn't considered proper," Mrs. Marty told The Sun in 2003.

In the interview, Mrs. Marty recalled her cousin arriving at the family's home during the 1930s in a chauffeur-driven car accompanied by aviator and Hollywood producer Howard Hughes, and another time being urged to try on the latest fashions that had arrived in steamer trunks from Paris couturiers.

"Kath let us try them on, but somehow or other, she just looked better in them than we did," Mrs. Marty recalled. "She was always so sincere and had quite an effect on me. She proved that women can be successful on their own and set a good example."

Mrs. Marty remained close to her cousin until her death in 2003.

Mrs. Marty was a 1936 gradate of Bryn Mawr School and earned a bachelor's degree in zoology from Smith College in 1940.

She returned to Baltimore and married George Carl Westerlind, a Marine fighter pilot who was lost in action in the Pacific during World War II.

During the war years, Mrs. Marty worked in Washington for the Office of Strategic Services.

In 1948, she married Louis Reed Huppman Sr., an insurance executive who died in 1958. Two years later she married Kenneth Butler Marty, a Mercantile-Safe Deposit and Trust Co. executive who died in 1995.

An ardent animal and nature lover, Mrs. Marty surrounded herself with all types of animals, including the "domestic, wild and exotic," family members said.

At her Ruxton home, where she had lived for 37 years before moving to her Sparks farm in 1998, Mrs. Marty cared for orphaned animals and birds given her by friends and neighbors. She became known as the "wild animal lady."

"At one time, her menagerie included two spider monkeys, a tropical stork, raccoons, a mynah bird, a number of smaller birds, five dogs as well as several horses and ponies," said a son, Louis Reed Huppman Jr., of Upperco.

She was an active member of the Greyhound Rescue and Adoption League, and at one time cared for seven greyhounds that had been retired from racing.

"All the kids in our neighborhood wanted to play at our house even though they'd fall off ponies and chip teeth, or like the time my friend was bitten by a monkey," said a daughter, Rosina Bigham "Posie" Huppman of Butler.

A lifelong birdwatcher, Mrs. Marty spent decades traveling the world and compiling a journal of the birds she had observed.

"She traveled to Antarctica, New Zealand, South America, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Alaska, where she spent six weeks hiking and camping to view and record bird sightings," Ms. Huppman said.

"She liked being interactive with children and taking them on bird walks at Cylburn Mansion, and the Irvine and Oregon Ridge nature centers," Ms. Huppman said.

Mrs. Marty also liked spending time at her family's Little Island Camp in rural northwestern Maine near Moosehead Lake.

A dedicated conservationist, she joined Judith Johnson, a longtime friend who in 1970 had founded the Committee to Preserve Assateague, to spare the national seashore from commercial development and a major highway project.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Mrs. Marty's 100-acre Mobjack Farm near Assateague, which she sold in 1987, served as the organization's headquarters.

"Her farm was very close to Assateague, and she didn't want to see it turned into another Ocean City," Ms. Huppman said.

She was a member of the L'Hirondelle Club in Ruxton and was an avid tennis player who enjoyed the sport until she was in her 80s.

At Mrs. Marty's request, there will be no services.

Also surviving are another son, George Houghton Huppman of Manchester; another daughter, Elizabeth Russell Huppman of Honolulu; a stepdaughter, Mary Lindsay Huppman Nesbitt of Ellicott City; a sister, Elizabeth Houghton Hooker Storke of Santa Barbara, Calif.; five grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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