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Family remembers Sykesville fire victims: ‘They loved with all the love they could give’

Arthur and Carole Twigg - USMC Ball - Family photo
Arthur and Carole Twigg - USMC Ball - Family photo (Courtesy Photo)

Arthur Twigg was a proud United States Marine who enjoyed woodworking and Civil War re-enactments. His wife, Carole, was a talented cook who held the family together like glue.

This is how Jennifer Twigg wants her parents to be remembered — not by the photographs of a charred house splayed across the front page.

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Arthur and Carole died when their Sykesville home caught fire in the 900 block of Raincliffe Road on Nov. 7, their daughter said in an interview. The Office of the State Fire Marshal has not identified the victims pending official confirmation from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Jennifer Twigg learned the fate of her parents when she saw firefighters fighting the blaze on television.

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She said her parents were married more than 48 years when they died. Both were 79.

“They loved their children, they loved their grandchildren. They loved with all the love they could give, I know that," Twigg said. “It’s very hard. I don’t think I’m ever going to get over this.”

Arthur is survived by one son and two daughters, and Carole is survived by two sons and one daughter, Twigg said. They also left behind 10 grandchildren, and a few great-grandchildren, according to Twigg.

‘Sunshine in everything’

Being a U.S. Marine was very much a part of Arthur’s identity, Twigg said. Jennifer’s daughter, Jessica Twigg, said her grandfather served in the Vietnam War and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, but that did not stop him from talking about the military. He was injured in the service and retired, Jennifer Twigg said.

“Once a Marine, always a Marine,” was her father’s motto, Jennifer Twigg recalled. “He was so, so proud of that.”

When Jessica’s son, Landyn Reidnauer, was born, Arthur bought Marines-themed baby clothes for him, she said. Arthur had the Marines Corps emblem on “everything” and flew the Marines flag at his home, Jessica Twigg said.

Carole was the “Martha Stewart of mothers” and loved to cook, Jennifer Twigg said.

“She always had a smile, never complained,” Jennifer Twigg said. “She was the glue of our family ... the heart of the family."

Jessica Twigg said her “mom mom” Carole loved the movie, “Polar Express” and her home was covered in the word, “Believe,” which is a theme of the film.

“She saw sunshine in everything,” Jessica Twigg said. “I wish I was more like her.”

Carole enjoyed gardening at home and worked at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Glen Burnie for years, according to Jessica Twigg.

Arthur Twigg is pictured at a re-enactment event.
Arthur Twigg is pictured at a re-enactment event. (Family Photo)

Arthur and Carole enjoyed Civil War re-enactments and would frequent Gettysburg, according to Jennifer Twigg. Arthur portrayed the Civil War Gen. Robert E. Lee, Jennifer Twigg said. They shared a passion for history and loved living in an old house.

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Jennifer Twigg estimates her parents lived on Raincliffe Road more than 30 years, refurbishing and fixing up the dwelling along the way. The family used to gather at the historic house on Raincliffe Road for Thanksgiving and Christmas, she said.

“They loved it. They loved being out in the country,” Jennifer Twigg said.

After retiring from the military, Arthur had various jobs, including managing apartment complexes and hotels, according to Jennifer Twigg.

Jessica Twigg said her grandfather could fix anything. He made gifts by hand for her and Landyn, now 13. When Landyn was younger, Arthur carved wooden characters from Landyn’s favorite animated movie, “Cars,” for him, Jessica Twigg said.

When Jessica graduated high school, her grandfather painted a portrait of her wearing a cap and gown that looked just like the photograph, she said.

‘They had smoke detectors’

Nelson Bolton serves as curator of the Raincliffe Venture Manor, which stands on the same property as the Twiggs’ home.

Bolton said he invited Arthur to serve as sub-curator of the 19th century house behind the mansion, which was an ideal situation for the Civil War enthusiast. The two had met working at a bank decades earlier, according to Bolton.

The night of the fire, Bolton’s son called 9-1-1 after spotting the house on fire through a bedroom window.

Bolton said he saw Arthur almost every day when they lived a stone’s throw from each other.

“It’s really tragic,” Bolton said.

He believes there were smoke detectors in the home, though the fire marshal’s office said investigators did not find any.

“As far as I know, they had smoke detectors,” Bolton said.

Jennifer Twigg said she was troubled to hear news outlets report there were no smoke detectors found in the burned home.

“They had smoke detectors,” she said.

She described her parents as “intelligent people” who wouldn’t neglect such a thing.

Jennifer Twigg visited the home after the fire.

Her parents had many Civil War artifacts and family antiques in their home, but it appears everything in the house was destroyed, Jennifer Twigg said.

‘No matter what’

Arthur was a “stern” man, Jessica Twigg said, but “if he loved you, he loved you fiercely.”

But most of all, he loved his wife.

“My grandfather loved my grandmother immensely,” Jessica Twigg said.

Arthur and Carole Twigg - July 5, 2017 - Family photo
Arthur and Carole Twigg - July 5, 2017 - Family photo (Courtesy Photo)

Carole suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in the last few years of her life, according to her granddaughter and daughter.

“He still took care of her, no matter what,” Jennifer Twigg said.

Jessica Twigg said her grandparents tried to prepare her for their death years ago. She knew Arthur wanted to be buried beside his wife.

“As hard as it is for our family, they got to go together,” she said. “That’s what he wanted.”

Memorial gatherings for Arthur and Carole Twigg will be held Nov. 23 from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Sterling-Ashton-Schwab-Witzke Funeral Home of Catonsville, 1630 Edmondson Ave., Catonsville.

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