Frances Louise German
Homemaker and antiques collector worked with her husband to save an overgrown Ellicott City cemetery
Louise P. German (Baltimore Sun / December 15, 2011)
The longtime Howard County resident was 91.
The daughter of a farm laborer and a homemaker, Frances Louise Porter, who never used her first name, was born in Woodbine, Howard County.
She attended a two-room schoolhouse in Woodbine, and later continued her education at a school in Lisbon.
Her formal education ended in the ninth grade when she was attending Sykesville High School.
"Her family was very poor, and her father went from farm to farm looking for work. She was visually impaired, and her family couldn't afford to buy her a pair of glasses," said her daughter, Joyce C. German Knell of Sykesville.
After leaving school, Mrs. German worked in an apple butter factory in Sykesville until her marriage in 1940 to Walter Raymond Penn.
She and her husband moved to Barrett, Carroll County, where their first son, Walter Wayne Penn, was born at home in 1942.
Mrs. German's husband was drafted into the Army at the outbreak of World War II when she was pregnant with their second child. While serving in the Pacific, he was killed in a noncombat incident in 1943.
Her second son, Larry Raymond Penn, was born the next month at her in-laws' home in Glenwood. Wanting a home of her own, Mrs. German moved to a house in 1945 at the intersection of Frederick Road and Centennial Lane in Pine Orchard, Howard County.
"She took in boarders, sold eggs from chickens she raised and vegetables from her garden to help out the family financially," said Mrs. Knell.
In 1948, she began dating her future husband, Joseph W. German, a stonemason, and they were married a year later.
In 1965, she and her husband moved to a larger home in Pine Orchard, where they planted a large vegetable garden and apple orchard and raised honeybees.
"They worked hard and sold vegetables, cider and honey they had made at their roadside stand," said Mrs. Knell.
Mrs. German became a well-known figure at the Howard County Fair, where her spice cake won her a blue ribbon in 1962.
For the next 25 years, she continued entering a variety of items, some of which included fresh fruits, vegetables, canned goods, baked cookies, cakes, crocheted items and flowers, at both the Howard County Fair and Maryland State Fair in Timonium.
Mrs. German also actively cared for those in need.
"She took food to a less fortunate family who lived nearby and donated a car to a man who had lost everything in a fire," her daughter said. "She transported those needing a ride to their physician or to a lake to go fishing."
In 1991, when developers threatened St. Mary's Cemetery, an overgrown Roman Catholic cemetery near Turf Valley, Mrs. German and her husband joined Friends of St. Mary's Cemetery and Preservation Society Inc., which sought to spare the cemetery from development. The couple had family members buried in the graveyard. The group was successful when the Howard County Council voted to preserve it in 1993 as open space.