Mary E. Rigdon, teacher and farmer who was named a Harford County Living Treasure, dies

Mary E. Rigdon, who oversaw the operation of her family’s Harford County farm and earlier had been an educator and librarian, died Saturday from a heart attack at her Jarrettsville home. She was 89.

The former Mary Elizabeth Wysong was born in Easton and raised in Forest Hill.

She was the daughter of Francis “Frank” Wysong, a Harford County health inspector, and Mary Elizabeth Wysong, a school teacher.

She was a 1947 gradate of Bel Air High School and in 1951 received a bachelor’s degree in education from what is now Salisbury University. She also received a certificate of library science in 1953 from the University of Virginia.

Mrs. Rigdon taught in public schools until her marriage in 1953 to George Benjamin Rigdon II, a farmer and a postal worker. She later served as a librarian in Harford County schools.

She oversaw daily operations of the 1,500-acre Rigdon Farms in Jarrettsville, and its tomato canning business, while her husband delivered the mail. The farm dates back to 1798.

The couple also had farmland in Cecil and Kent counties, family members said.

She was a lifelong member of the 4-H, and in her youth Mrs. Rigdon was a national project winner for her canning and preserving of fruits and jams. For years, she served as the leader of the Owls 4-H Club and was a board member of the Rocks 4-H Camp. She was later initiated as an 4-H All-Star member.

She was a past member of the Harford County Farm Bureau and a board member of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Mrs. Rigdon was an active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and had been regent of the William Paca Chapter.

She and her husband were each named a Harford County Living Treasure and, in 2009, they were honored by the Harford County Farm Bureau as Farmers of the Year.

Mrs. Rigdon was a longtime communicant of Rock Spring Episcopal Church in Forest Hill, where she served on the vestry, was cemetery treasurer and was groundskeeper.

She was also a frequent visitor to the Veterans Administration hospital and helped neighbors and friends in hospice care.

Mrs. Rigdon loved the woods, and enjoyed taking children on nature walks, family members said. She was also an accomplished storyteller who liked speaking about her family’s history.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at William Waters United Methodist Church,1452 Jarrettsville Road, Jarrettsville. Family members said both the land andthe church building had been donated by her husband’s grandfather.

She is survived by her husband of 64 years as well as by two sons, Henry Benjamin Rigdon of Darlington and John Alexander Rigdon of Jarrettsville; seven grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

— Frederick N. Rasmussen

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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