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Ann H. McLain, 'first lady of Washington College'

Ann H. McLain was known as the "first lady of Washington College."
Ann H. McLain was known as the "first lady of Washington College."

Ann H. McLain, a longtime active resident of Chestertown who was also known as the "first lady of Washington College," died Wednesday at the Heron Point retirement community of heart failure. She was 94.

"She was a wonderful, gracious lady who had been a huge supporter of the college through her husband. Both of them had been students here," said Jack S. "Jay" Griswold, interim president of Washington College.

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"She was just a lovely lady in every way, and she and her husband were a great pair," said Mr. Griswold. "Washington College has a way of grabbing people, and I'd put Ann at the top of the list."

The daughter of G. Vickers Hollingsworth Sr., a Queen Anne's County farmer and grain broker, and Edna Auld Price Hollingsworth, an educator, Ann Hollingsworth was born and raised in Church Hill.

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After graduating in 1936 from Church Hill High School, she was 16 when she matriculated at Washington College.

Her future husband, Joseph Howard McLain, was a senior at Washington College when she arrived for her freshman year, said a daughter, Lynn McLain of Chestertown.

"He used to say he saw her Freshman Week and remembered her 'pushing those saddle shoes across campus.' He then asked her out for the formal freshman dance," said Ms. McLain.

At Washington College, Mrs. McLain played field hockey and basketball for four years and served as secretary and president of the Girls' Intercollegiate Athletic Association. She also was treasurer and vice president of Alpha Chi Omega sorority.

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After earning a bachelor's degree in 1940 in mathematics, she moved to Baltimore and took a job at the Calvert Distillery in Relay, where she calculated taxes due on whiskey shipped to various states.

In 1941, she married Dr. McLain, who in 1946 became a professor of chemistry at Washington College. He earned his doctorate at the Johns Hopkins University and in 1955 was appointed head of the chemistry department at the Chestertown college.

"Their wedding reception was held at John's Chance, the Queen Anne's County farm that has been owned by her family since 1668," said Ms. McLain. "It is still in the family."

Dr. McLain was named the 22nd president of the college in 1973, a position he held until his death in 1981.

"She was well known as a gracious hostess ... whose home was always welcoming," her daughter said.

She said that at the time, "my father was the only alumnus to have served as president of Washington College since its founding in 1782, and my mother is the only alumna to have been its first lady."

"She was a fabulous, wonderful lady who loved Washington College, and everyone loved her," said Barbara Heck, senior associate vice president for college advancement at Washington College.

In her role assisting her husband, Mrs. McLain was known for the Eastern Shore fare she served in her home to guests. Her specialties included wild goose, beaten biscuits, and her chicken and crab salad.

Mrs. McLain, who was a founding member of the Women's League of Washington College, maintained strong ties with the college well into her 90s.

She and her husband endowed the McLain-Hollingsworth Scholarship Fund at the college, and she was alumna adviser to her sorority.

She also enjoyed attending Washington College sporting events, her daughter said.

Mrs. McLain was long active in the community, where she had been a 4-H leader, Brownie leader, garden club member and a volunteer at what is now Chester River Hospital Center.

She was an active member of the Colonial Dames and Emmanuel Episcopal Church, where she had been a member of the flower and altar guilds, taught Sunday school, and cooked church suppers.

For several decades, Mrs. McLain and her friend Fredrica McDorman organized an annual bridge party fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

Mrs. McLain and her husband had lived in a home on Queen Street. She later moved to a house that overlooked the Chester River. Since 2011, she had been a resident of Heron Point.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at her church, 110 N. Cross St., Chestertown.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. McLain is survived by another daughter, Elizabeth McLain Fitzhugh of Berlin, Vt.; four grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

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