Jeanne F. Begg Clagett

[ Age 94 ] Horsewoman and business owner was knighted by the Dutch queen.

November 12, 2007

Jeanne Frederique van den Bosch Begg Clagett, who was knighted for her work aiding the resistance movement during World War II and went on to have careers in real estate and horse breeding, died of Alzheimer's disease Nov. 5 at her Roedown Farm estate in Davidsonville. She was 94.

Born in the Netherlands, she received bachelor's and master's degrees from Oxford University. She came to the United States before World War II, working as a writer and photographer at the New York Daily Mirror and doing public relations for the Red Cross.

She came to Washington to work for the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA, where she became the deputy liaison officer and chief of the Low Countries Dissemination and Research Division.

There she met and married John M. Begg, a State Department official, and the couple bought Roedown Farm, where they bred, boarded and trained racehorses. They were married 45 years until his death in 1985.

In 1948, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands made her a knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau for her work in the United States that helped liberate the Netherlands from Nazi occupation.

She turned to real estate after the war. She founded two firms carrying the Begg name that catered to an elite clientele. She sold Hickory Hill to John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy before it became the home of Ethel and Robert Kennedy, and sold homes to Caspar W. Weinberger and Alexander M. Haig, when they were secretaries of state. The company was acquired by Long and Foster in 1990.

She was a noted horsewoman. She successfully raced in steeplechases abroad and raised multiple stakes winner Silver Tango and Royal Tango, the 1993 Maryland Horse Breeders' Association yearling show grand champion, among others.

In 1994, she married Henry Contee Bowie "Hal" Clagett Jr., who survives her.

The farm continued its horse operations. Roedown also is the home of numerous races, including the Marlborough Hunt Races, which this past spring marked the 33rd annual running.

She was fluent in six languages.

Her memberships included the Sulgrave Club in Washington, the Chevy Chase Club, and the Maryland Horse Breeders Association.

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Trinity Episcopal Church in Upper Marlboro.

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