Margaret E. Lovejoy, a bookkeeper and homemaker, who assisted her husband in his pastoral work, dies

Margaret E. Lovejoy, a bookkeeper and homemaker who assisted her minister husband in his pastoral work for decades, died Wednesday from heart failure at the Homewood at Plum Creek Retirement Community in Hanover, Pa.

The former Abingdon resident was 91.

“I was a Methodist minister and her husband was a Methodist minister and our families go to know one another years ago,” said the Rev. W. McCall “Mac” Roberts, retired executive director of the Maryland Bible Society.

“Margaret was a great minister’s wife and a full partner of any church he served in the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Church,” said Mr. Roberts, who is also a resident of Homewood at Plum Creek. “She was a very religious person who lived by a strict moral code in both her personal and business life.”

The former Margaret Elizabeth Hummer was born in Baltimore and raised in Darlington. She was the daughter of James E. Hummer, who worked for the old Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co., and Catherine Wrightson Hummer. a homemaker.

A graduate of Bel Air High School, she was 18 when she married John Andrew Lovejoy, a World War II Navy veteran, and worked as a bookkeeper financially helping her husband while he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1950 from Asbury College in Wilmore, Ky.

She continued to support him as he pursued graduate studies at the University of Kentucky and Wesley Theological Seminary, then in Westminster. In 1954, he was ordained an elder in the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Church.

During his long career, Mrs. Lovejoy’s husband was pastor of Mount Vernon United Methodist Church in Hampden, and also Arlington Methodist Church in Pikesville, Orems Methodist in Middle River, St. John’s of Hamilton, Pleasant Hill Reisterstown and Gatch Memorial in Overlea.

In 1989, after retiring as a full-time pastor, he became an assistant pastor at Grace United Methodist in Aberdeen from 1990 until 2000, family members said.

One of Mrs. Lovejoy’s accomplishments was changing the church’s policy on pastors moving from church to church.

“My father was pastor at no less than seven churches in the Baltimore metropolitan area,” said her son, John Steven “Steve” Lovejoy, a Guilford resident.

“The policy my mother attacked was the circumstances that the furniture and appliances as a parish house, called a parsonage in the Methodist Church, would be inherited by the incoming pastor and his family,” Mr. Lovejoy said.

“This created chaos because the incoming family would have to jettison furniture and appliances duplicated at the new parsonage and purchase replacements for appliances missing from the new home,” he said

“Given the number of moves, this was a real financial problem. She spearheaded a movement to allow the minster’s family to keep the furniture and appliances at their current residence and move them to their new parish,” he said. “It was a major positive change for Methodist ministers’ families.”

“She was very active as a lay person in her husband’s churches,” Mr. Roberts said. “She was active with the United Methodist Women organization, sang in the choir, and taught Bible classes. When she moved to Homewood, the first thing she did was join the local Methodist Church.”

Mrs. Lovejoy had also been active in the Methodist Chinese Mission.

“She was a natural at being a minster’s wife and partner. Her commitment to church life and parishioners was absolute,” her son said.

“I remember that we sat in the front pew on Sundays because most parishioners avoided being so close that my dad could use them as an example in his sermon,” Mr. Lovejoy said, with a laugh.

Mr. Roberts described Mrs. Lovejoy as an “attractive woman who was incredibly well-groomed and always well-dressed,” and in those days, an inveterate wearer of millinery.

“That was back in the day when a minister would take his fee for a wedding or a funeral and give it to his wife so she could buy a new hat,” Mr. Roberts recalled. “You could always tell when John had done a wedding or funeral because Margaret would be wearing a new hat.”

After her last child attained school age, Mrs. Lovejoy became a bookkeeper-accountant in 1976 at the old Maryland Bible Society office on Franklin Street in downtown Baltimore.

“She had an absolutely wonderful temperament and we of course, became good friends. She had an adjoining office next to mine, and she’d do anything for me except lie,” Mr. Roberts said, with a laugh.

“The phone would ring and I’d say, ‘Tell them I’m not here and to call back.’ She was much too ethical and would say, ‘You know I can’t do that,’ ” he said.

Mrs. Lovejoy was skeptical of the arrival and reliability of a computerized system that controlled the society’s inventory, preferring to hold onto the way she had always done them.

“She insisted on keeping two ledgers, and once a month, she’d sit on a folding chair next to my desk and we’d go over them,” Rev. Roberts said. “Margaret’s bookkeeping was flawless.”

She retired from the society in 1992.

Mrs. Lovejoy enjoyed cooking and entertaining family, friends and parishioners.

“You did not turn down a chance to have dinner at Reverend Lovejoy’s home because the food would be the best, especially the desserts,” her son said.

“She was known for her seafood galaxy and made a mean crab imperial. Her cooking was very much Maryland-oriented,” he said. “And her chocolate chiffon pie was not to be duplicated.”

When she was a younger woman, Mrs. Lovejoy had enjoyed doing crafts, but her favorite holiday was Christmas. “It was huge with her and she loved decorating the house and making decorations,” her son said.

Mrs. Lovejoy’s husband died in 2003.

Funeral services will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the First United Methodist Church, 200 Frederick St., Hanover, Pa.

In addition to her son, she is survived by two daughters, Patricia Ann Hegberg of Hanover, Pa., and Susan Elizabeth Lovejoy of Lehighton, Pa.; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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