Marjorie L. "Margie" Nagle, whose family's renowned handmade ice cream kept devotees coming to their Carroll County general store for more than 80 years, died Sunday of congestive heart failure at her Snydersburg home.
She was 92.
Marjorie Lavinia Simmons was born on her parents' Snydersburg Road farm, and was 8 years old when she moved into a house and general store her parents built across from the farm and opened as Simmons General Store.
Mrs. Nagle, a graduate of Carroll County public schools, began working in the general store with her parents when she was a child.
In 1934, after her marriage to Philip L. Nagle Jr., a painter and wallpaper contractor, the couple moved into the house that is connected to the store. He died in 1999.
"They spent their entire married life living right next to the store," said her daughter, Jean E. Neudecker, who now owns and operates the store with her husband, Carroll, who has presided over the ice cream making since 1997, when Mrs. Nagle retired.
"When she became bedridden, a door that connected the house to the store was kept open and customers would call, 'Hey Marjorie, how are you doing?' " her daughter said.
For years, the store sold meats, canned food, dry goods and Esso gasoline that was dispensed from a single gas pump out front.
"It was a real old-fashioned general store," Mrs. Neudecker said. "All they did was work in the store from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. It was their life."
However, what really kept the customers coming back since Calvin Coolidge occupied the White House was the store's famous vanilla ice cream that initially was made in a hand-cranked freezer from a secret recipe - now only known to the Neudeckers - that had been developed by Mrs. Nagle's parents, Joe and Estie Simmons, in the early 1920s.
"It was my grandmother who came up with the recipe," Mrs. Neudecker said.
After opening the store and deciding to make ice cream commercially, Mrs. Nagle's parents used milk and cream they purchased from nearby farms.
"But then the health department stepped in because it wasn't pasteurized; so from then on we had to buy it from a dairy," Mrs. Nagle told The Baltimore Sun in a 1992 interview.
When the ice cream was churned in hand-cranked freezers, Mrs. Nagle described the effort as "hard work."
They later added chocolate ice cream to their repertoire and in the warm months offered a fruit flavor made from locally grown produce.
Mrs. Neudecker said her mother and father carried on the tradition of making good ice cream that had been established by the elder Simmons.
"My mother always said the reason the ice cream was always good was because they 'put a lot of love into it.' She also said, 'If you don't make it right, you can't sell it. And never sell anything you wouldn't eat yourself.' "
Another tradition that continues at the store that dates to its founding is that all ice cream that is sold is wrapped in newspaper to maintain its temperature.
"My grandparents started that because that's all they had," Mrs. Neudecker said.
Raymond E. Smith, a retired mail carrier, and his wife, Dorothy B. Smith, a retired bank secretary, are old friends of Mrs. Nagle's.
Every Sunday morning the Hampstead couple would drive over to the store and donate their accumulated newspapers from the previous week to be used to wrap the gallons of ice cream the store sold each week.
"They do a tremendous business in the summertime, and their ice cream is always so creamy and delicious," Mrs. Smith recalled. "My favorite is peach and my husband loves the chocolate."
The Rev. Melvina V. Stricklin, pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Upperco, is another devoted customer who has been enjoying Simmons ice cream for years.
"I live within a mile and a half from the store. Also, Jean Neudecker managed our woman's softball team and we played on the ball field right behind the store," Ms. Stricklin said.
"Marjorie was always our biggest cheerleader and after a game, we'd eat cream," she said.
Mrs. Nagle was a member of St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 1616 Cape Horn Road, Hampstead, where services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday.
In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Nagle is survived by a grandson; and six great-grandchildren.