Achsah S. O'donovan, Horse Breeder

November 24, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen

Achsah S. O'Donovan, who with her husband bred thoroughbred horses on their Baltimore County farm for more than 40 years, died of cancer Nov. 17 at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. She was 87.

Achsah Carrington Stettinius, the daughter of an investment banker and homemaker, was a direct descendant of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. She was born in Baltimore and raised on her family's Pot Spring Road farm in Timonium.

She was a 1943 graduate of Westover School in Middlebury, Conn., and married Hugh Jenkins O'Donovan, a Baltimore investment banker, that same year.

"She was given in marriage by her uncle, Edward Stettinius, who was secretary of state during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt," said a daughter, Achsah S. O'Donovan of Upperco.

In the mid-1950s, after her husband had given up banking, the couple began breeding thoroughbred horses full time at their 200-acre Grasslands Farm in Baltimore County.

Mr. O'Donovan died in 2003.

In addition to raising her family, Mrs. O'Donovan was manager of operations at Grasslands, where she was still residing at her death.

The couple were prominent in equestrian circles, including steeplechasing and fox hunting.

Mrs. O'Donovan, who had been an artistic judge for the Garden Club of America, was a former president of the Garden Club of Twenty. She also was an active volunteer at Ladew Topiary Gardens near Monkton.

Mrs. O'Donovan was an accomplished needleworker, and several of her needlepoint designs were displayed at the National Cathedral in Washington and St. John's Episcopal Church in Glyndon. She also enjoyed painting in oils.

She was a member of the Mount Vernon Club and the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club.

Mrs. O'Donovan was a member of St. John's Episcopal Church, 3738 Butler Road, where funeral services were held Saturday.

Also surviving are a son, John H. O'Donovan of Timonium; another daughter, Betty O'D. Gurskis of Great Falls, Va.; and three grandchildren.

- Frederick N. Rasmussen

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