Margaret von Marees Wills, founding member of GBMC board


Margaret von Marees Wills, a founding member of the board of the Greater Baltimore Medical Center who also served in leadership positions in Maryland and national garden clubs, died Tuesday at Broadmead of cancer.

Mrs. Wills, who was 87, was president of the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland from 1957 to 1961; a national director of the Council of State Garden Clubs from 1960 to 1966; and director of the council's Central Atlantic Region during the same period.

At GBMC, she chaired the board of directors' committee on grounds. In that post, she was instrumental in having the Middendorf Garden landscaped with trees, flowers and shrubs.

"She suggested to J. William Middendorf Jr. [a Baltimore financier and philanthropist] that he donate the money for the garden, which was dedicated to the memory of his late wife, Alice Carter Middendorf," said Pedie Killibrew, a friend of Mrs. Wills for 23 years. "She was very purposeful, direct, and when she had a goal in mind, she wouldn't be stopped.

"Mrs. Wills was a hands-on type and didn't mind getting her hands dirty and worked right with the landscapers who worked on the Middendorf Garden. She was really a very knowledgeable horticulturist."

The Baltimore native and daughter of Hans and Alma Dohme von Marees was a 1924 graduate of the Garrison Forest School. She earned a nursing degree from the Women's Hospital of Maryland in 1928 and practiced there and at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

During World War II, she coordinated Red Cross blood donor programs.

In 1932, she married Richard N. Wills, a former teacher and farm manager at the McDonogh School and a dairy cattle official at the Maryland State Fair. The couple made their home for many years in Owings Mills and Ruxton until they moved to Broadmead in 1983. Mr. Wills died in 1986.

Mrs. Wills was also a founding member of the Baltimore County Committee of the Maryland Environmental Trust in 1970, chairwoman of the Nature Trail Committee at Broadmead, and a member of the Woman's Club of Roland Park, which she joined in 1934.

She was the president and a member of the Roslyn Garden Club.

Her other interests included American and Maryland history and flower arranging.

Services were to be held at 2 p.m. todayat St. Mark's-on-the-Hill Episcopal Church, 1620 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville, where she was a member for 61 years. She had been a member of the vestry.

She is survived by a son, George Stockton Wills of Ruxton; a daughter, Susan Wills Hunter of Towson; a sister, Claire von Marees Stieff of Broadmead; and five grandchildren.

The family suggested memorial contributions to the Federated Garden Clubs Scholarship Fund, 1105 Providence Road, Towson the Broadmead Nature Trail or the Broadmead Residents' Assistance Fund, 13801 York Road, Cockeysville 21030; or St. Mark's-on-the-Hill, Pikesville 21208.

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