Sherlock Swann Gillet, a Baltimore County farmer and water utility owner, died Sept. 9. Family members said that he went out for his daily horseback ride in Glyndon and did not return. He was later found in a field. Family members said he fell from his horse and died of his injuries. He was 77.
Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Charles B. Gillet and Page Swann. His maternal grandfather was Sherlock Swann, a Baltimore postmaster who led the reconstruction of downtown Baltimore and its streets after the Great Fire of 1904. Another ancestor, Thomas Swann, was a Maryland governor, Baltimore mayor, president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and a leading force in the creation of Druid Hill Park.
Known as Shocky, Mr. Gillet was raised at Montmorenci, a Worthington Valley family farm that adjoined Sagamore Farm and is located near Glyndon. He attended the Calvert School and Gilman School and was a graduate of the Hill School in Pottstown, Pa.
After attending the University of Virginia for two years, he enlisted in the Army and served with the Green Berets in Panama. He left military service as a lieutenant.
He later returned to Charlottesville and earned a business degree at Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce.
While a student, he was introduced to his future wife, Iva L. Embry, who lived in Louisville, Ky. The couple met at a horse show and were introduced by Mr. Gillet's sister, Page Gillet Brewster.
After college, Mr. Gillet joined his father's water utility business, Peoples Water Service Co. He began with the utility in 1965 and served as its president and chairman at his death. The water company, which serves small towns in Louisiana and Florida, has been owned by the Gillet family for more than 80 years.
Mr. Gillet owned and lived at Hunting Ridge Farm in Glyndon. He named it after his parents' hunting camp in Blue Ridge, Va.
"My father enjoyed the country life and supported his wife and young children's interest in riding even though he was once not an avid rider," said his son, Sherlock S. Gillet Jr., also of Glyndon. "But after spending time with his daughter, Iva, in her riding events, he started riding regularly while he was in his mid-40s."
"He loved his horses and his morning ride," said his brother, Charles B. Gillet Jr. of Lutherville. "He kissed his horses on the nose and gave them a peppermint each day. I think they looked forward to it."
Mr. Gillet supported the Maryland Combined Training Association, an equestrian group. He competed in riding events as well. He participated in three-day eventing, show ring jumping, dressage and cross country.
The son said his father "overcame sporadic health issues during his life," including cancer. As a result, he became interested in alternative medicine and homeopathic remedies.
"He studied Eastern medicine to learn how to overcome illness through stress management, energy, work, proper nutrition and exercise," said his son, who is also known as Shocky. "My father enjoyed sharing this knowledge to anyone in need."
Charles C. Fenwick Sr., a Baltimore County resident and longtime friend, said, "Shocky was convinced that alternative medicine could help you, too. He was totally consumed with interest in the subject."
Family members said that Mr. Gillet remained physically fit and active.
"The day before his death he spent hours mowing his fields in his constant pursuit to have his farm looks its best," his son said.
He also been recently riding with the Green Spring Valley Hounds.
On the morning of his death, he left his home and went for a morning ride. His horse came back riderless.
"He passed doing what he loved," his son said.
Mr. Gillet was a longtime member of the Elkridge Hunt Club.
Services were private.
In addition to his wife of 54 years, son and brother, survivors include two daughters, Iva L. Gillet of Charlottesville, Va., and Edith S. Forrester of Nevada City, Calif.; and five grandchildren.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun