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Harriet S. Iglehart, equestrian, writer and an advocate for civil rights and justice, dies

Harriet Iglehart's writing - she specialized in writing profiles - was published in several local publications.
Harriet Iglehart's writing - she specialized in writing profiles - was published in several local publications.

Harriet S. Iglehart, an equestrian, writer and environmentalist who advocated for civil rights and justice with her husband, died of congestive heart failure July 1 at Carroll Branch Farm in Monkton. She was 94.

“Harriet was quite simply a stunning and spirited thoroughbred, with a radiance, generosity, and sparkling humor that captivated everyone she came across in her long life,” Harry Lord, a first cousin who lives in Bolton Hill, wrote in an email.

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She was committed to assisting underserved and overlooked neighborhoods in the city, Lord wrote. She was involved with the Baltimore Tree Trust and Flowering Trails, Center Stage and Planned Parenthood.

“Harriet loved the land, devoting enormous time and energy to The Manor Conservancy and Ladew Gardens. We will never see another Harriet, that’s for sure,” Mr. Lord wrote.

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The former Harriet Austen Stokes, daughter of John A. Stokes, a farmer and owner of the John A. Stokes Co., a real estate firm, and his wife, Elaine Lord Stokes, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and was raised at Hillside, her family’s Glencoe farm.

Every morning, she’d catch a train on the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Northern Central Division that took her to Ruxton, where she got off and went to the Greenwood School, from which she graduated in 1945. She attended Goucher College and later earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, both from Johns Hopkins University, in English and literature.

As a young girl growing up on her family’s farm, she did farm work and also became an exceptional equestrian. “From age 10 and up, her performance at pony and horse shows made her one of the East Coast’s top child riders,” according to a biographical profile submitted by her family.

In 1947, she married Francis Nash “Ike” Iglehart Jr., who was a lawyer and a decorated World War II veteran, who had fought at the Battle of the Bulge, and later wrote a memoir about his wartime experiences.

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The couple later settled at Carroll Branch Farm where they raised their five children, and where she oversaw the farm’s livestock and crop production for more than 60 years.

A prolific writer whose specialty was profiles, Mrs. Iglehart wrote for Maryland Horse, Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred, Towson Times, The Jeffersonian and North County News. For 23 years, she was editor of the Elkridge-Harford Hunt Club Newsletter.

In an essay, she reflected on her days growing up in Glencoe in the 1930s, which was nothing more than an agrarian village with a small Pennsylvania Railroad country depot that allowed residents access to the outer world.

”The railroad itself provided the town’s excitement. When a train rounded the bend, the steel bell on the road-crossing clanged a deafening warning. From the adjacent dingy gray hut would step Dunkel, a tramp-like man who wound down the single gate and halted the occasional car,” she wrote.

“Fast trains with freight and passenger cars (sometimes 30 cars!) hurtled through, acknowledging us with a whistle and disappearing around the curve heading south, its haunting wail echoing off trees and boulders.

“The Harrisburg local stopped at 5:15; passengers disembarked and from the mail car an iron arm shot out and grabbed the canvas bag from its post.

“The favorite was the three-car Parkton local which stopped four times a day, hissing and steaming and filling the air with coal gas. Ruddy-faced Mr. Bacon called ‘All Aboard!’ and blew his whistle, the brakes wheezed and off they chugged.

“But most of the time Glencoe was quiet — you could even hear the Gunpowder rippling over rocks, the scenery tranquil and the houses serene. No wonder we loved the forbidding railroad tracks and the trains moving on to faraway places — if only to Parkton or Harrisburg.”

Mrs. Iglehart shared her husband’s passion for civil rights, justice and protecting the environment. They protested against real estate developers who wanted to foreclose on the homes of veterans.

In the 1950s, her husband sought a way to stop violent, anti-Black demonstrations in Baltimore public schools in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling that desegregated schools. Mr. Iglehart was appointed chairman of the Baltimore County Human Rights Commission.

Together they established the Francis N. “Ike” and Harriet S. Iglehart Fund, an unrestrictive fund that supports the mission of the Baltimore Community Foundation, and honors the couple for their advocacy of justice and civil rights.

Their shared interest in environmental matters, through the Maryland Environmental Trust and the My Lady’s Manor Historic District, the couple “protected their 316-acre farm with one of the largest easements ever donated to the trust in Baltimore County,” reported The Baltimore Sun in 1995.

Mrs. Iglehart brought her spirit of volunteerism to Center Stage, Ladew Gardens, Planned Parenthood and other organizations.

“As a volunteer and board member of Planned Parenthood, she often took to the streets of Baltimore to raise awareness of free health services available to those who often had access to no health care service at all,” according to the family profile.

Her health concerns went far from Baltimore as she was involved with Native American health and wellness issues, “increasing awareness of these through the works of Navajo artists on reservation lands in Farmington, New Mexico,” Mr. Lord wrote.

“She was ever committed to the people in whom she believed and the causes they shared, and leaves a community and family long sustained be her example of grace, command and purpose,” the profile said.

Her husband died in 2007.

At her request, a private family memorial service will be held at St. James Episcopal Church in Monkton, where she was a communicant.

She is survived by three sons, Francis Nash Iglehart III of Leverett, Massachusetts, Thomas James Iglehart of Monkton, and John Stoke Iglehart of London; two daughters, Elaine Lord Iglehart of Glencoe and Hallie Austen Iglehart of Mill Valley, California; three grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

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