Margaret E. Sparrow, a writer and genealogist who had served as executive director of several organizations in Baltimore, New York City and Connecticut, died in her sleep Monday at a daughter's Annapolis home. She was 88.
Mrs. Sparrow, who was born Margaret Elizabeth Willis in Baltimore and was raised in Howard Park and Mount Washington, had celebrated her birthday a week ago, family members said.
She was a 1936 graduate of Western High School and earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Goucher College in 1940. In the mid-1950s, she earned a master's degree in teaching from the Johns Hopkins University.
Mrs. Sparrow had been executive director of the Baltimore Council of the Camp Fire Girls from 1955 to 1965. After her husband was transferred to White Plains, N.Y., she served as executive director of the Southwestern Connecticut Girl Scout Council from 1966 to 1971.
From 1971 until retiring in the early 1980s, Mrs. Sparrow was executive director of Constituent Leagues for the National League for Nursing in New York City.
In 1984, Mrs. Sparrow returned to Baltimore and moved into an apartment at 100 W. University Parkway. She subsequently lived at Elkridge Estates and the 3900 N. Charles Street Apartments before moving to Annapolis nearly a year ago.
Active in Republican politics for many years, Mrs. Sparrow was a candidate for the Baltimore City Council in the early 1950s, and ran under the slogan "Stick With the Birds and Vote for Sparrow."
She also had been an active member of the Citizens for Eisenhower during Dwight D. Eisenhower's first campaign in 1952 for the presidency.
"We go way back to the time when we were both working in Maryland politics. She was a member of the Ballot Battalion, an organization that got people out to vote," said a friend, Katherine S. Willson.
"She originally had been a Democrat and then changed to a Republican because she believed in the two-party system, especially in Maryland. However, she was always looking for justice and fair play in everything she did," she said.
Mrs. Sparrow was a member and past regent of the Col. John Streett Chapter in Baltimore of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a member and past president of the Maryland Huguenot Society, and was a member of the Maryland Historical Society.
She was a member of the National Society Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America and the Colonial Dames of the 17th Century.
Mrs. Sparrow was a teacher and lecturer in the field of genealogy. For years, she conducted workshops and classes.
She had been the founder and first president of the Westchester County, N.Y., Genealogical Society, and was a past librarian and library chairman of the Maryland Genealogical Society.
She had also been a member and board member of the Anne Arundel Genealogical Society and the Baltimore County Genealogical Society.
"She was very thorough and precise, and I never found any gross errors in her work," said Robert W. Barnes, a friend of 40 years, who is a reference archivist at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis.
"Margaret was such a lovely person, and, like Rhett Butler said in Gone With the Wind after Melanie died, 'She was a truly great lady,'" he said.
Mrs. Sparrow was also the author of numerous books, some of which included Memories of the Eastern Shore; The Old Stone House; Following the Huguenot Trail; The Forest Home Academy; Sailing Down the Chesapeake; The Sparrows of Sparrows Point; Publish or Perish; Caroline County -- A Bird's Eye View; and Additional Comments on the Fountaine Family of the Eastern Shore.
Mrs. Sparrow was a member of the Woman's Club of Roland Park and the Three Arts Club of Homeland.
"I knew her through the DAR and the Three Arts Club. She was a very intelligent person and a delightful conversationalist," said Diana Wimberly. "One thing we avoided discussing was politics. She was on one side, and I was on the other."
The two longtime friends enjoyed discussing current events, books and movies, and playing bridge, Mrs. Wimberly said.
"We both enjoyed each other's company," she said.
"She was an absolutely trusted friend, and was never petty or interested in things that would make her seem unattractive," Mrs. Willson said. "She was very important to a lot of people."
Her husband of 38 years, C. Edward Sparrow Jr., former eastern region sales director of Westinghouse Electric Co.'s Lamp Division, died in 1979.
She was a member of Second Presbyterian Church, 4200 St. Paul St., where services will be held at 11 a.m. today.
Surviving are two daughters, Constance Norris Sparrow of Annapolis and Dorothy Talmadge Sparrow of Yorktown, Va.; a sister, Dorothy Willis McDonald of Leesburg, Va.; and many nieces and nephews.