Samuel Q. Tharpe, a retired atomic power plant security supervisor and avid gardener, died Thursday of respiratory failure at his Pylesville home. He was 92.
Samuel Quincy Tharpe, the son of farmers William Freeland Tharpe and his wife, Bretta Mae Tharpe, was born in Ronda, North Carolina. When he was a teenager, he moved in 1941 to Norrisville to work on his grandfather’s farm.
He attended Harford County public schools before joining the Navy in 1947. After being discharged in 1951, he took a job at Aberdeen Proving Ground, where he earned his General Educational Development diploma.
After graduating in 1956 from the Maryland State Police Academy, he began his career as a trooper at the Conowingo Barracks. He later served at the JFK and Valley barracks before being assigned to Bel Air Barrack D.
In 1964, U.S. Sen. Daniel B. Brewster presented Mr. Tharpe with the Maryland State Police Alumni Association Trooper of the Year Award for 1963.
He retired in 1978 from Bel Air with the rank of sergeant and immediately began a second career as the Philadelphia Electric Co.'s first security supervisor at the Peach Bottom atomic power plant, where he was the author of many of the procedures and policies governing the operation of the plant. He retired for a second time in 1989.
As a young man, Mr. Tharpe was leader of a local 4-H Club, and as an adult he was an active member of Highland Presbyterian Church in Street, serving as a deacon, elder and president of the trustees.
Mr. Tharpe and his wife, the former Mary Louise Wilson, whom he married in 1957, were instrumental in the restoration of the church’s sanctuary and stained glass windows.
Mrs. Tharpe, who was jury commissioner for the Harford County Circuit Court and librarian for the Harford County Bar Association, died in 2001.
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For more than 50 years Mr. Tharpe was an active member of Esdraelon Lodge No. 156 of A.F.& A.M. in Cardiff. He was a past president of the Mason-Dixon Lions Club and a former board member of the Southern States Cooperative in Cardiff.
An inveterate gardener, Mr. Tharpe was known for his tulips and daffodils in the spring and his gladiolas in the summer.
In 2017, he was named a Harford County Living Treasure.
Mr. Tharpe was described by former Aegis reporter, photographer and author Todd Holden in nominating him for designation as a Harford County Living Treasure as being “methodical, friendly to a fault, in the twilight of his years and close to the land he loves. Sam Tharpe is a good man, who served the people of our community in the best way possible. The one way, the right way seemed to work out just fine for the boy from Wilkes County, who came to Harford and fell in love with the people and the work. Lots of folks he dealt with hold him in the highest regard to this day.”
Funeral services were held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at his church, 701 Highland Road, Street.
He is survived by two sons, Samuel Q. Tharpe Jr. of Towson and G. Wilson Tharpe of Street; a daughter, Nancy Jane Long of Charleston, West Virginia; two brothers, Sherian Dean Tharpe of Wilkesboro, North Carolina, and Felix H. Tharpe of Mount Airy, North Carolina; three sisters, Nancy Guiton of Greensboro, North Carolina, Bretta Mae Hays of North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, and Helen M. Porter of Ronda; and four granddaughters.