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Margaret M. ‘Peggy’ Rowland, longtime educator, dies

Margaret M. “Peggy” Rowland taught at Stoneleigh Elementary School for 25 years before retiring in 1981.
Margaret M. “Peggy” Rowland taught at Stoneleigh Elementary School for 25 years before retiring in 1981.

Margaret M. “Peggy” Rowland, a retired longtime Baltimore County public schools educator and inveterate golfer, died June 7 of lung cancer at her Mercy Ridge Retirement Community home. The former Rodgers Forge resident was 97.

The former Margaret Jenkins, daughter of Frank Plowden Jenkins, who worked in finance for the DuPont Co., and his wife, Mary Louise Stevens, was born in Baltimore. In 1925, her mother died giving birth to her brother, Louis Plowden Jenkins.

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Subsequently, she and her infant brother moved to La Plata to live with her grandmother and their father’s three unmarried sisters on a tobacco farm in Southern Maryland.

She was sent to the Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington as a boarding student, and told family members in later years that it was strict. “Georgetown Visitation was a convent. You had to ask permission to go to town. You had to have a chaperone to leave school,” she said.

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“She wasn’t terribly happy there,” said a daughter, former Baltimore Circuit Judge M. Brooke Murdock, now a senior Circuit Court judge, who lives in Tuscany-Canterbury.

Mrs. Rowland, who was known as Peggy, was a 1944 graduate from what is now Notre Dame of Maryland University where she earned a degree in biology. Trained as a medical technician during the waning days of World War II, she worked in Boston at a diagnostic clinic.

She returned to Baltimore after the end of the war and, while attending a cocktail party, met a woman who introduced him to her nephew, Rea Murdock, who had served in Italy with the Army, and was now working as an Evening Sun reporter.

A friend cautioned Mrs. Rowland, “He’s great fun, but don’t get into a taxi with him.” Recalling the story in later years, she’d laugh uproariously and said, “That’s for me.”

They married in 1948 and raised two children on Stanmore Road in Rodgers Forge. Mr. Murdock, who later worked as a reporter for the News American, died in 1989.

After earning a master’s degree and a teaching certificate from what is now Towson University, where she had been a student-teacher at the old Lida Lee Tall School, in 1956 she joined the faculty of Stoneleigh Elementary School, where she taught for 25 years before retiring in 1981.

In 1980, she was presented the Presidential Award of Service for her work at the school. The same year the Baltimore County Board of Education acknowledged her service in furthering the educational welfare of public schoolchildren.

After her cousin died in 1990, she renewed her friendship with her cousin’s widowed husband, Blake H. Rowland, an industrial designer who lived in Sarasota, Florida, and whom she married in 1992. After his death in 1995, she returned to Maryland.

At Mercy Ridge, she encountered residents whose children she had taught and met old friends with whom she had golfed. In addition to golf, she enjoyed traveling and shopping.

She had been a communicant of St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church in Govans and later St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church in Rodgers Forge.

Plans for a funeral Mass to be offered at St. Ignatius Chalk Point Roman Catholic Church in Port Tobacco are incomplete.

In addition to Judge Murdock, she is survived by another daughter, Priscilla Murdock Marten of Proctorville, Ohio; two stepdaughters, Cecelia Strawn and Jenifer Rowland, both of Sarasota; and two granddaughters.

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