Phyllis L. Mowbray, director of library program, dies

She and her husband restored 18th-century farmhouse

  • Phyllis Mowbray
Phyllis Mowbray
April 22, 2011|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Phyllis L. Mowbray, former director of the Carroll County Public Library's "Library Link" program, who restored an 18th-century farmhouse with her husband, died Monday of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at Carroll Hospice Dove House.

She was 88.

Phyllis Louise Wagner was born in Baltimore and raised in Pikesville. She was a 1939 graduate of Franklin High School. Two years later, she became ill with tuberculosis, which forced her to be confined for a year at the state sanatorium at Sabillasville in Frederick County.

During that time, she fell in love with her high school sweetheart, G. Hamilton Mowbray, whom she married after World War II in 1946.

Her husband, who was a research psychologist with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory until his retirement in 1973, died in 2001.

In 1964, the couple purchased a 100-acre dairy farm in Silver Run, Carroll County, where they restored a 1795 farmhouse.

Because the couple had learned to appreciate wine when living in Cambridge, England, where her husband earned his doctorate, they established Montbray Wine Cellars, a vineyard and winery on their farm.

Dr. Mowbray successfully demonstrated that classic European grapes could be grown in the Mid-Atlantic.

Mrs. Mowbray's role in the winery was handling the business side of the operation.

Even though the winery closed in 1992, the vineyard is maintained by Bert Basignani, owner of Basignani Winery Ltd. in Butler, said Mrs. Mowbray's daughter, Claire Mowbray Golding of Princeton, Mass.

From 1979 until 1989, Mrs. Mowbray had worked as an administrative assistant to the life enrichment program of the Carroll County Bureau of Aging and director of the county public library's "Library Link" program.

She was an avid gardener and genealogist and liked collecting antiques, flower arranging, cooking and writing.

Mrs. Mowbray wrote two books dealing with her maternal genealogy, "Maryland Footings, German Roots" and "Forthurber Family Stories."

Plans for a celebration of her life to be held in May were incomplete.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Mowbray is survived by her son, Paul N. Mowbray of Mays Landing, N.J.; a sister, Reina W. Leverton of Baltimore; and two granddaughters.

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