Gertrude H. Crist, education advocate, dies

Howard County community leader promoted education and had run a Southern States farm business

  • Gertrude Crist
Gertrude Crist
April 30, 2011|By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun | Baltimore Sun reporter

Gertrude H. Crist, an education advocate who was inducted into Howard County's Women's Hall of Fame, died of respiratory disease April 21 at the Fairhaven Retirement Community. She was 92.

She was born Gertrude Hartman on her grandparents' farm in Oakes, N.D. Her parents raised her on a farm near Aberdeen, S.D. She attended the Barnard Consolidated School and South Dakota State University in Brookings.

Mrs. Crist moved to Maryland in 1938, where her older brother was attending agricultural school at the University of Maryland, College Park. She took a job at the school's Extension Service and later joined the Department of Commerce.

After being introduced by her brother, she married a Maryland student, Howard G. Crist, on Nov. 2, 1940. He served in World War II and they later lived in Virginia while he worked for Southern States Cooperative in Richmond.

In 1951, the Crists moved to Glenelg in Howard County, near her husband's family farm. They established a business, Farm and Home Service Inc., a Southern States Cooperative agency that served farmers in Howard and Carroll counties.

She worked alongside her husband as vice president and secretary-treasurer of their business, which had branches in Ellicott City and Sykesville. They sold feed, fertilizer and animal equipment. They sold the business to a son in 1978.

Mrs. Crist was also a community volunteer. She began when she joined the PTA as her sons started elementary school. She also belonged to the League of Women Voters, the American Red Cross, Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, the Maryland Association of Boards of Education and the National School Boards Association.

"She was a woman of determination, grace and intelligence," said her daughter-in-law, Martha Clark of Ellicott City. "She was a true lady, and a marvelous mother-in-law, too. She was welcoming and supportive."

Mrs. Crist was named to the Howard County Board of Education in 1953 and served until 1970. She was a founding member of the Maryland State Board for Community Colleges from 1968 to 1976. She served on the Maryland Council for Higher Education from 1968 to 1979 and the Maryland State Board for Higher Education from 1976 to 1986.

"She was ahead of her time," her daughter-in-law said. "She was often the first woman to be appointed to a board."

Mrs. Crist also served on the Catonsville Community College Advisory Council from 1969 to 1970 and was part of the group that was instrumental in establishing Howard Community College in her role as a member of the Howard County Board of Education, her daughter-in-law said.

The Howard Community College board of trustees conferred upon her an honorary degree of Associate of Arts "for service rendered to the residents of Howard County." Mrs. Crist was inducted into the Howard County Women's Hall of Fame in 2007 as "a distinguished community leader and promoter of educational and civic excellence."

On April 9, she was given the Honorary Membership Award by the University of Maryland Alumni Association. She attended the ceremony in College Park.

She was an active member of St. John's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, where services were held Wednesday.

Survivors include a son, Howard G. Crist III of Boise, Idaho; three grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter. Her husband of nearly 53 years died in 1993. Another son, Douglas F. Crist, died in 2000.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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