Mary Iager

[ Age 89 ]She helped run Howard Co. farm that raised thousands of turkeys.

August 19, 2007

Mary Elizabeth Iager, who helped run Maple Lawn Farms, one of the largest turkey farms in the state, died yesterday after a short illness at Montgomery General Hospital in Olney. She was 89.

Born Mary Stauffer in Walkersville in Frederick County, she graduated from Walkersville High School in 1936, one of 14 people in her class. Two years later, she married C. Ellsworth Iager after meeting him a year earlier at a Farm Bureau banquet and dance at the Lord Baltimore Hotel.

The couple were married for 49 years until his death in 1987.

Mrs. Iager worked alongside her husband for nearly three decades, cultivating a 108-acre farm in Fulton in southern Howard County that had been in his family for five generations. The Iagers raised dairy cattle and crops, and they maintained about 5,000 turkeys in the early years on the farm.

A typical day for Mrs. Iager, according to daughter-in-law Judy Iager, began at 4 a.m., when she milked the cows for two to three hours before feeding the calves.

"Then, after the animals were taken care of, she'd hitch up horses and plow the fields," Judy Iager said. "She'd carry 50-pound bags of feed around. Then she'd make the food and do the wash."

The Iagers turned the business over to their sons in 1968, but Mrs. Iager remained active. As late as last year, Mrs. Iager took orders for the nearly 20,000 turkeys sold during the holiday season.

Iager turkeys have been served on the tables of Maryland governors and President John F. Kennedy.

The family also participated in one of the largest mixed-use development deals in Howard County history. Over the next 10 to 15 years, plans for Maple Lawn call for more than 1,000 houses and 1.2 million square feet of commercial space on 508 acres of land adjacent to U.S. 29 on property partly owned by the Iagers.

Mrs. Iager and her husband started a land development, real estate and appraisal business after they retired. Mrs. Iager had attended Strayer Business College in Baltimore after high school.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, across the street from the family farm.

Mrs. Iager is survived by two sons, Charles Ellsworth Iager Jr. and Eugene William Iager of Fulton; a daughter, Martha Susan Iager Radhe of Fulton; a brother, George Clayton Stauffer of Walkersville; eight grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

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