Lucy Acton (June 14, 2011)

Lucy C. Acton, a former Evening Sun feature writer who later was editor of Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred, formerly Maryland Horse Magazine, died June 7 of cancer of the appendix at Gilchrist Hospice Care.

The Timonium resident was 63.

"She was a deliberate person and real dedicated to the Maryland horse racing industry. She really cared and that was her life," said Joseph B. Kelly, retired Washington Star racing editor and turf historian.

"It is a very complicated business, and she wrote about and participated in every phase of it," said Mr. Kelly, who had worked with Ms. Acton's father, Wilton Snowden Carter, in the late 1940s when both were young reporters covering racing for The Baltimore Sun and the old Evening Sun.

"Lucy was a very quiet person but a real hard worker and a little giant," he said.

Lucy Carter was born in Baltimore and raised on her parents' horse farm on Reisterstown Road, adjacent to Hannah More School, and later at a farm in Upperco, where they moved in 1959.

Ms. Acton was a 1965 graduate of Hannah More and earned a bachelor's degree in English in 1969 from Duke University.

After graduating from Duke, she went to work for The Evening Sun as an editorial assistant and was promoted to reporter that year. She was assigned to what were then called the "women's pages," where she wrote feature stories and compiled "Weekly Calendar: Fun For Children."

Her 1974 story about a hoax at Southwestern High School made the national newswires.

Several students, with the help of faculty members, had dreamed up Marvin Stickman, an outstanding Southwestern High graduate whose grade average in the high 90s earned him acceptance to both Harvard and Oxford.

It turned out that Marvin Stickman was not a real person but rather a purple and gold penguin doll.

Ms. Acton quoted Dennis Arenson, a biology teacher who helped his homeroom students who had found the doll in the trash mastermind the hoax.

"They salvaged it and brought it in as a mascot and gradually the idea came of infusing it with life," Mr. Arenson told Ms. Acton.

The hoax blew up when "Marvin Stickman" was summoned to be fitted with a cap and gown for graduation.

"With a little more finagling we could have had him graduate," the biology teacher told Ms. Acton. "The kids went overboard with Harvard and Oxford, and the counselor, Mrs. Gertrude Harris, was alarmed that someone so brilliant had escaped her notice for three years."

School officials would not allow him to "graduate," she reported.

Ms. Acton also wrote articles for the old Sunday Sun Magazine. In 1975, she profiled trainer Katy Merryman Voss, scion of a legendary Maryland horse family, who graduated in 1971 from Goucher College with a degree in math.

"Tall (about 5 feet 7) and an athletically trim 115 pounds, Katy Voss, Garrison Forest '66, looks and speaks more like the private girls' school's riding instructor than a tough competitor in a man's world," she wrote.

"Wearing dilapidated blue jeans over good leather boots and thin gold bracelets on her arm, she propped her feet up on a feed bag and told how everything she's doing now goes back to her family upbringing," she wrote.

Ms. Acton left the newspaper in 1975 to have her first child.