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Helen R. Spedden, federal worker and horsewoman, dies

Helen R. Spedden, a retired federal employee who worked for the Army for two decades, died Monday from pneumonia at Dove House in Westminster.

She was 91.

Helen Rose Willis was born in Baltimore and raised in Walbrook Junction. She was the daughter of Walter Lawrence Willis, a house painter, and Laura Virginia Fogel Willis, an employee of Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co.

She was a 1944 graduate of Western High School and also attended the Maryland Institute College of Art.

She began working in the late 1940s as a clerk-stenographer, first at Fort Meade and later at Andrews Air Force Base. When she retired in 1968, she had the title of Programs Directorate of Research and Engineering for the U.S. Army, according to a niece, Marla Jeanne Backhaus, of Pensacola, Fla.

In 1948, she married Robert H. “Bob” Spedden, and they settled on an Ellicott City horse farm.

The couple showed their horses in various American Quarter Horse shows, and were members of the American Painted Horse and American Pinto associations, the Maryland Western Horse Association and the Maryland State Quarter Horse Association. They were also judges on the U.S. horse show circuit.

Mrs. Spedden was interested in her family genealogy. She and her husband enjoyed traveling throughout Maryland photographing historic houses.

She continued living on the farm after her husband died in 2008, but moved last November to an assistant living facility in Westminster.

Graveside services will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at Mountain View Cemetery, 2030 Mount View Road, Marriottsville.

In addition to her niece, she is survived by a nephew and another niece.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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