Isabella 'Sissy' Hoblitzell, homemaker, gardener and dowser

Isabella "Sissy" Hoblitzell, a homemaker and a dowser who family members said could find water anywhere, died Sunday of complications from dementia at her Owings Mills home. She was 81.

The daughter of James Dixon Bartlett Sr., founder and chairman of Poor, Bowen, Bartlett and Kennedy Inc., Baltimore insurance brokers, and Isabella McCormick Bartlett, a homemaker, Isabella Bartlett was born in Baltimore.

She was raised on Caves Road in Owings Mills at Adventure, a home that had been a part of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad's Fair of the Iron Horse held at Halethorpe in 1927 and and moved to her family's property three years later.

A 1954 graduate of Garrison Forest School, she made her debut at the Bachelors Cotillon.

She married Peter A. B. Hoblitzell Jr. in 1955, and two years later, the couple moved into a home on Hopkins Lane in Owings Mills, where she lived until her death.

She was a flower and vegetable gardener and earned a reputation for her ability at dowsing, or using a divining rod to located water.

"Her father had that ability, and she was so good that we called her the 'Water Witch,'" said a son, Thomas B. Hoblitzell of Ruxton.

"She'd find water anywhere and did it for family and friends. One time, the well-diggers were on a friend's farm and finding no water. She walked over and told them to dig there, and pretty soon they drilled and found water that rushed out at 12 gallons a minute," he said.

Mrs. Hoblitzell was a judge for the Garden Club of America and had been president of the Green Spring Valley Garden Club.

A golfer, she chaired the women's golf committee at Green Spring Valley Hunt Club, where she had been the 1991 Nancy Byers Martin Match Play champion.

In addition to golf, she played tennis, bridge and bingo. An accomplished needlepointer, she also enjoyed mackerel fishing and peregrine falconry.

She enjoyed spending summers at Half Moon, a family home in Chester, Nova Scotia, where she planned beach picnics, searched for sea glass, sailed and photographed sunsets.

She was also a member of the Mount Vernon Club, and the Chester Yacht Club and Chester Golf Club, both in Nova Scotia.

She was a communicant of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Owings Mills, where graveside services are private.

A celebration of her life will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday at Green Spring Valley Hunt Club, 30 Greenspring Valley Road, Owings Mills.

In addition to her husband of 62 years, a retired Poor, Bowen, Bartlett and Kennedy Inc. executive, and her son, Mrs. Hoblitzell is survived by another son, Peter A. B. Hoblitzell III of Owings Mills; two daughters, Julianna S. Tompkins of Myersville and Alexandra H. Heintz of Manchester, Vt.; three sisters, Virginia "Boopsie" Smart of Indianapolis, Mary Dixon "Dieky" Peers of Sanibel Island, Fla., and Elizabeth "Libby" Hill of Villanova, Pa.; and eight grandchildren.

frasmussen@baltsun.com

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