Frances Ann Starkey Eger, a homemaker and bluebird enthusiast, died of kidney failure Saturday at Gilchrist Center Towson. The former Ruxton resident was 98.
Born and raised in Centreville in Queen Anne’s County, she was the daughter of James Cook Starkey, a dairy farmer and his wife, Mollie Ross, who shared the responsibility of running the farm. She was a 1938 graduate of Centreville High School and earned a diploma at Strayer Business College in Baltimore.
In 1941 she married Karl F. Eger, a Westinghouse engineer. They met at Westinghouse where she was a secretary to an executive.
She and her husband were looking for a place to live in Ruxton and found a 1908 barn at the Farm of the Four Winds on Northwind Road. The barn, with stalls for horses, had been used to store carriages.
The couple paid $11,000 for the barn and an acre of land. It included a chicken house they converted to a shed for their garden equipment. They moved into the barn in April 1947.
“My mother worked alongside my father to restore the place. They moved walls and they refinished floors. As a couple, they were joined at the hip,” said her daughter, Carla E. Brumfield of Darlington. “They worked together for four of five years to make it more of a house than a barn.”
Mrs. Eger used her acre of land to grow corn, tomatoes, squash and herbs, and she raised annuals and perennials. She also opened her home for the 1960 Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage.
Mrs. Eger was a member of the Eastern Shore Society of Maryland and the Four Seasons Garden Club of Ruxton.
She was also an enthusiastic birder and belonged to the American Bluebird Society. She kept bluebird houses both in Ruxton and at the Blakehurst Retirement Community, where she lived since 2005. She walked with the assistance of a walker that had a mechanical bluebird, with flapping wings, attached to it.
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In addition to her daughter, survivors include another daughter, Christina Roseberry of Centreville; three grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. Her husband of 71 years, who helped design a camera for a lunar landing mission, died in 2012.