Elsie M. Hegwood, a former elementary school educator and cafeteria manager who was an active member of Govans Presbyterian Church, died Jan. 16 at a daughter's Elizabethtown, Pa., home from complications of a stroke she suffered two years ago.
The former Towson resident was 99.
The former Elsie Matthews was born in Laurel, Miss., and was raised in New Orleans and Jackson, Miss., where she graduated from high school.
She attended Belhaven College — now Belhaven University — in Jackson, Miss., for several years and then moved to Detroit and Boston, where she was a school cafeteria manager in Westwood, Mass.
In 1933, she married Albert Hegwood, an insurance man who later became vice president of Maryland Casualty Insurance Co.
The couple moved to Towson Estates and later lived on Loch Raven Boulevard. After her husband's death in 1975, she moved to Dulaney Towers in Towson.
Mrs. Hegwood taught briefly in the early 1960s in Baltimore elementary schools.
She was an active member of Govans Presbyterian Church, where she was in the first class of women ordained as elders at the church. She later became a deacon at the church, where she sang alto in the choir and was a member of its handbell choir.
When needed, she filled in as church secretary, edited the newsletter, served on the preschool board, and appeared in productions of its drama club.
Relatives said Mrs. Hegwood also was known as the "Honorary Queen" of the church kitchen, where she frequently prepared suppers for large groups of members.
"Her favorite role at church, however, was as a Sunday morning greeter, where as one close friend said, 'She was the smiling face of Govans for years,'" said a daughter, Frances Manly of Buffalo, N.Y.
Mrs. Hegwood was an avid Elder hosteler and also helped to plan and lead Elder Experience retreats for the Presbytery of Baltimore.
She was also an active member of the Govans Senior Center, where she took memoir writing courses and later was a leader. She collected her own essays in a book she titled "Rear View Mirror."
In 2003, she moved to the Pickersgill Retirement Community in Towson, where she helped organize and served as mistress of ceremonies of the Pickersgill Follies.
Mrs. Manly said her mother's "stand-up comedy routines between the acts were one of the great hits of the show."
A world traveler, Mrs. Hegwood enjoyed Caribbean cruises and visiting Europe and the Middle East.
She also enjoyed sipping bourbon and in deference to her Southern heritage liked drinking mint juleps, her daughter said.
Plans for a memorial gathering to be held at her church July 12, which would have been her 100th birthday, are incomplete.
In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Hegwood is survived by another daughter, Virginia Bishop of Elizabethtown; four grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun