Margaret L. “Lou” Pine, whose love of children led her to establish Roland Park’s Elmhurst Nursery School, which she headed for nearly six decades, died Dec. 10 of heart failure at Union Memorial Hospital. The Wickford Road resident was 93.
“Mrs. Pine is deserving to be venerated as an early childhood educator,” Nina Showan Wakefield, an Elmhurst parent, wrote in an email. “Elmhurst Nursery School was conducted with unsparing nurturance. I was continually and thoroughly impressed with her knowledge of educational principles. So many young lives were enriched because of her.”
Margaret Louisa Dukes, daughter of L. Reyner Dukes, an insurance executive, and Esther Willey Dukes, an educator, was born in Baltimore and raised on Roland Avenue and later Wickford Road.
She attended Roland Park Public School and graduated in 1947 from Roland Park Country School.
After graduating with a teaching degree from Marjorie Webster Junior College in Washington, Mrs. Pine began teaching in the early 1950s at Friends School.
It was the height of the baby boom when she decided to establish a school of her own, and in 1955, she opened Elmhurst Nursery School at 2 Elmhurst Road in Roland Park, which was owned by Roland Park Presbyterian Church and known as Church House. The 13 children arrived from as far away as Towson and Mount Washington, as well as Roland Park.
After a 1958 fire damaged the house, Mrs. Pine relocated the school to the old Church of the Brethren on Roland Avenue. It moved a third time in the early 1970s to a house in the 4000 block of Roland Avenue, owned by Roland Park Country School, which charged Mrs. Pine a rent of $1 a year.
Mrs. Pine later purchased the three-story, six-bedroom house, located on the border between Roland Park and Hampden, near The Rotunda mall.
“The baby boom made Elmhurst a hot school, with as many as 55 enrollees, including the children of author Anne Tyler, state Sen. Jim Brochin and restaurateur Ted Bauer, the owner of the Valley Inn and Oregon Grill,” reported The Baltimore Sun at the school’s closing in 2014.
“My family is decidedly not from the North Baltimore milieu,” wrote former Sun reporter and Baltimore author Rafael Alvarez in an email. “We discovered Elmhurst after making friends with Lou’s son Jonathan through blues music. The school set all three of our children on a path to academic success and Lou followed their journey for years to come.”
The Sun observed, “It seemed then that only her own mortality could ultimately tear her away from the school, where she was defined by hundreds of children through the years as ‘Mrs. Pine.’”
On the school’s closing day, Mrs. Pine was running around with the “energy of her children, orchestrating the annual Father’s Day Picnic and the presentation of certificates to this year’s graduates on the penultimate day of the 2014 school year,” the newspaper reported.
She explained to The Sun that the decline in enrollment in recent years was due to full-time working parents who required full day care.
She said she was looking forward to “relaxing, do some gardening and do some of the things that have been neglected.”
Her daughter, Margaret “Peggy” Utermohle, who lives in the city’s Evergreen neighborhood, told The Sun at the time, “The school is my mother. My mother is the school.”
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“To this day, Elmhurst graduates still ask and talk about her,” Ms. Utermohle said.
In 1956, Mrs. Pine married Jonathan W. Pine, who worked in sales for S. Kirk & Son — later Kirk-Stieff Inc. — where he rose to sales manager. He died in 1987.
For years, the couple maintained a second home at Long Lake, a town in the Adirondacks in New York, where they enjoyed spending summers.
In 1974, the couple and their two children embarked on a five-week trip to Europe, which included a visit to Normandy, where Mr. Pine had participated in the D-Day landing.
The Morning Sun
After the death of her husband, Mrs. Pine continued her pursuit of travel, including trips to the coast of California and Paris with her daughter.
Family members said her favorite trip, which she never stopped talking about, was when she took her children and grandchildren to London to celebrate Christmas in 2010.
Other interests included family genealogy, needlepoint, knitting and cooking. She was also a member of the National Society of Colonial Dames.
“Next to her family, her greatest love was Elmhurst and Long Lake,” Ms. Utermohle said.
At 93, Mrs. Pine was the oldest living member of St. David’s Episcopal Church, where she had been a member of the Outreach Committee and Flower Guild, her daughter said.
A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 7 at her church, located at 4700 Roland Ave.
In addition to her daughter, she is survived by a grandson; two granddaughters; and a niece. Her son, Jonathan W. “JP” Pine Jr., died in 2013.