Frances Warner Riepe

Frances Warner Riepe ( )

Frances W. Riepe, a former interior decorator who had been a trustee of Ladew Topiary Gardens, died May 16 of congestive heart failure at her home in the Brightwood retirement community in Lutherville. She was 91.

The daughter of Francis Asbury Warner Jr., founder of the Warner-Graham Co., and Elsie McGee Warner, a homemaker, the former Frances Warner was born in Baltimore and raised on Hollen Road in Cedarcroft.

She attended Bryn Mawr School and graduated in 1941 from the Knox School in Cooperstown, N.Y.

In 1946, she married George Mitchell Stump Riepe, who later became president of the Warner-Graham Co.

Mrs. Riepe earned a certificate in 1964 from the New York School of Interior Design and owned and operated an interior decorating firm from her Guilford home. She was still working in interior design well into the 1980s, family members said.

"Mom had a great sense of style and an eye for design in just about all things — clothing, interiors, gardens and landscapes. She always looked New York-sharp," said her daughter, Kathryn Riepe "Kate" Chambers of the Woodbrook neighborhood of Baltimore County.

"She loved Paris and anything French. She was arranging cut daffodils and issuing orders about placement of furniture right up until a week before she died," said Ms. Chambers. "Having a hospital bed in her lovely bedroom really ticked her off."

"She was a stay-at-home mom, but she was fully engaged in her interests out of the home," said a son, Frank W. Riepe of Sudbury, Mass.

Mrs. Riepe founded the Woodland Garden Club, which is associated with the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland. She also had been chairwoman of the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage.

She had been a member of the Women's Committee at the Baltimore Museum of Art and had chaired their antique show.

When she and her husband moved to Monkton in 1972, she "immersed herself in the preservation of the Ladew Topiary Gardens during its early days and was a trustee there," her daughter said.

Mrs. Riepe, who had moved to Brightwood in 2001, had been an inveterate bridge player throughout her life.

"While not mathematically inclined, she continued to round up bridge games right up until about a month ago," said her daughter. "She also followed the stock market closely and knew the closing prices of key stocks every day."

Mrs. Riepe was a communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., where a memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

In addition to her husband of 68 years and her son and daughter, Mrs. Riepe is survived by four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Another son, George Mitchell Stump "Mitch" Riepe Jr., died in 1997.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com