Mary M. Bowie

Western Maryland newspaper reporter, publisher and owner was also active in the Maryland Historic Trust

January 14, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Mary M. "Macky" Bowie, a former newspaper reporter and publisher who had been active in historic preservation issues, died of cardiovascular disease Jan. 6 at Keswick Multi-Care Center. The longtime Lutherville resident was 92.

Mary McIntyre Pennington was born in Hagerstown and raised there and in Annapolis. After graduation from Hagerstown High School in 1933, she went to work for The Herald-Mail in Hagerstown, covering social and civic events as well as writing celebrity features.

Mrs. Bowie, who later became woman's editor, purchased The Boonsboro Times in 1944, a weekly newspaper that had been founded in 1842.

In addition to her publishing duties, Mrs. Bowie set the type, wrote copy, sold advertising and sometimes even operated the press, said a daughter, Jane Allan Bowie of Baltimore.

"When the newspaper building was sold, no other landlord was willing to house the heavy letterpress equipment. So she had no choice but to sell the paper and return to The Herald-Mail, where she wrote a column, 'All In A Day,' " her daughter said.

During World War II, Mrs. Bowie also organized USO activities in Hagerstown and at nearby Camp Ritchie.

After her 1946 marriage to Washington Bowie V, a J.F. Griener Co. civil engineer, the couple moved into a home on Bellona Avenue in Lutherville. Mr. Bowie died in 2001.

Mrs. Bowie briefly resumed her newspaper career, writing for The Jeffersonian, a Baltimore County weekly, before becoming a homemaker and raising her four children.

She returned to work in 1966, when she took a position at the Goucher College library, where she was in charge of films and records and also studied for a bachelor's degree.

"She never got her degree because she had so many different interests," Ms. Bowie said.

"Macky was the intelligent adult learner we loved having in class," said Jean H. Baker, an author and professor of American history at Goucher.

"She loved Maryland history and also came from distinguished Maryland lineage," Ms. Baker said.

She added that Mrs. Bowie was "extremely conscientious" and was a "devoted servant of Goucher who always made herself available to faculty and students."

Charles W. Mitchell, a Lutherville author who had known Mrs. Bowie since childhood, received research assistance from her when he was writing Maryland Voices of the Civil War, which was published in 2007.

"Macky was a very intellectual woman with broad horizons," Mr. Mitchell said yesterday. "She was always a very engaging person who accomplished a great deal at a time when things were different for women."

For some years, Mrs. Bowie was one of three editors who edited Maryland Garden News, the magazine published by the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland.

Mrs. Bowie had been a longtime member and former chair of the Baltimore County Committee of the Maryland Historic Trust, and during the 1970s, helped lead the effort that resulted in original Lutherville being placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

"She was a stalwart and a great spirit," said W. Boulton Kelly, a noted Baltimore architect and preservationist. "Everyone on the trust depended on her, and she was just a fantastic and wonderful person."

Mrs. Bowie was also an active member of the Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church cemetery committee and volunteered at the Walters Art Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

She enjoyed giving lectures in recent years on George Alfred Townsend, the Civil War correspondent who commissioned the Civil War Correspondent's Arch, which was built in 1896 and stands in Gathland State Park near Burkittsville.

Mrs. Bowie was a communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Comforter, 130 W. Seminary Ave., Lutherville, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Jan. 24.

Also surviving are two sons, Washington Bowie VI of Baltimore and Landon Armistead Bowie of New York City; another daughter, Marion Bowie Robbins of Luray, Va.; and two grandsons.

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