Margaret H. James, tended family's farm

March 21, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen

Margaret H. James, a homemaker who enjoyed maintaining her 17th-century farm in Havre de Grace, died March 11 of heart failure at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center. She was 88.

Margaret Higinbothom was born in Ellicott City and moved to Bel Air with her family in 1921. After graduating from Bel Air High School in 1936, she enrolled at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, where she earned her bachelor's degree in 1940.

During World War II, she worked as an executive medical secretary for a general at Edgewood Arsenal.

She was married in 1954 to William S. James, who later served in the Maryland House of Delegates for seven years and 21 years in the state Senate - 12 years as president.

Mr. James, who died in 1993, had also been state treasurer for three terms.

Mrs. James and her husband lived at Old Bay Farm, a land grant from the king of England that overlooks the upper Chesapeake Bay and has been in their family since 1697.

"She made the beautification and upkeep of the farm one of her primary projects, and its beauty today is a tribute to her hard work," said her daughter, Del. Mary-Dulany James, a Havre de Grace Democrat.

"She was an avid gardener who was very skilled and adored spending time working with her flowers, fruits and vegetables," she said.

Mrs. James also had a reputation for being a gracious entertainer and hostess, and she employed her considerable culinary skills in helping support her husband's and daughter's political careers.

She was also a master breeder of Chesapeake Bay retrievers, had been president of the Garden Club and was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Mrs. James was a longtime communicant of St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Havre de Grace, where she was a lay and Eucharistic minister.

She also was an accomplished bridge player.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 1 p.m. today at St. Margaret Roman Catholic Church, 141 N. Hickory Ave., in Bel Air.

Also surviving are three grandchildren. Her son, Robert Roy James, died in 1997.

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