Lilian Pillard, starred in historical fetes


Lilian Schueler Pillard, who participated in the first human flag celebration in 1914 and the celebration of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad's 100th birthday, died Nov. 22 of internal bleeding at St. Joseph Hospital.

She was 91 and had been a resident of the Glen Meadows Retirement Community in Glen Arm since moving there in 1987.

She carried one of the stars of the American flag during the Star-Spangled Banner Centennial Celebration at Fort McHenry in 1914. She was one of 6,500 schoolchildren who made up the human flag.

In 1927, the B&O; celebrated its 100th birthday with the 23-day Fair of the Iron Horse, which included steam locomotives, cars and a contingent of Blackfoot Indians. The event was held on a 25-acre site near Halethrope, and more than a million people attended.

The fabled president of the railroad, Daniel Willard, affectionately known locally as "Uncle Dan," personally selected Mrs. Pillard, an employee at the time, to portray Britannia and ride on a float marking the history of British rail.

In a memoir, Mrs. Pillard wrote: "England, considered to be the mother of railroads, was honored as a float rode into view with a band playing 'Hail Britannia.'

"On the float stood Britannia, costumed as a Roman goddess of war, in a white flannel skirt, metal bodice, blue scarf over the right shoulder, red, white and blue shield, holding a brass trident, all of this topped off with a brass helmet with its red cockscomb.

"I explain this in such detail because I was Britannia."

Robert Schueler, her brother, of Bel Air, said, "I remember her well in the grand parade of great trains, standing on the front of the beautiful King George V [locomotive], of the London, Midland and Scottish Railroad. I was so very proud of my sister."

She was reared in Lauraville and attended city schools. She graduated from what is now the Notre Dame Preparatory School in 1917 and began her career as a secretary with the B&O; that year.

She continued her education at Cornell University, and in 1932 graduated from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

"It was the Depression, and she wanted to go onto college," said her brother. "Mr. Willard said that rather than resign her position, the railroad would keep her job open and also loaned her a thousand dollars for her education -- a fortune in those days."

In 1932, she married Basil H. Pillard, a professor and dean of students at Antioch, and the couple made their home in Yellow Springs until his death in 1957.

In 1958, she returned to Baltimore and worked in administration at Goucher College. She retired in 1977.

In 1960, she earned a master's degree from the University of Colorado.

A memorial service will be held in January at the Glen Meadows Chapel.

In addition to her brother, survivors include a son, Dr. Richard C. Pillard of Boston; a daughter, Ellen F. Pillard of Reno, Nev.; a sister, Kathryn S. Gordon of Towson; three grandchildren and one great-grandson.

Memorial donations may be made to the Presbyterian Senior BTC Services, Litsinger Scholarship Fund, 11630 Glen Arm Road, Glen Arm, Md. 21057.

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