Kathryn Myers Frock
Kathryn Myers Frock

Fourteen years ago — on April 12, 1998 — the Baltimore Sun carried an article about my neighbor and good friend, Kathryn Myers Frock, in which it was noted:

"The Westminster woman, who is believed to be the longest-serving 4-H volunteer in the country, was surprised recently to be honored for 58 years of volunteer service.

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"Fifty-eight years? thought Frock. Why 58?

"'Maybe they don't think I'm going to be here for 60 years,' she said with a smile."

Well, Frock made it to 60 years. As a matter of fact, make that 74 years that she was a 4-H leader and volunteer fair judge.

That said, with Frock, it was not as much about the quantity of years, but the quality.

Frock passed away on April 26 at age 94.

She was born in Mayberry on June 17, 1917. She was one of seven children, the eldest of five girls; the daughter of the late John H. Myers, a house painter, builder and barber. Her mother, Maude Maus Myers Zimmerman, worked in a canning factory, and died in 1995 at the age of 105.

Frock was married in 1946 to Russell W. Frock, a printer and pressman at various companies, including the Sun. The couple moved to Melrose, and then to the house she designed in Westminster in 1950. He died in 1977.

She attended Taneytown High School, Class of 1934. She was a seamstress for L. Greif Brothers Clothing Company, and a homemaker. "She worked in a sewing factory on the top two floors of the Opera House on East Main Street - almost dropping out of school in her junior year when the National Relief Act boosted her wages to an unheard-of $14.40 a week in 1933," according to the 1998 Sun article, which was written by Sheridan Lyons.

"Frock had her second paying job decades later, after her husband died, when she taught needlepoint, rug-hooking, knitting, crocheting and embroidery for about eight years at Frederick Community College," wrote Lyons.

"If there were a grandmaster of homemaking, Frock, 80, would qualify," noted Lyons. "Her skills range from the 'seven-day pickles' she puts up to the carefully centered daisy buttons on a dress she made in 1936 that swept 4-H Club local, state and national needlework honors."

Frock first joined 4-H in 1934, according to another newspaper account of her service, printed in The Eagle in 2006, written by Katie Jones.

Steve Allgeier, Carroll County Cooperative Extension Service agent in Westminster, said this week that, "The thing that I will always cherish about Mrs. Frock is that she was my link to Carroll County history, … especially extension history.

"She had an encyclopedic memory of ag and extension history," he said, "and she always had a sunny disposition."

In fact, Frock was one of the few remaining links of history that date back to the days when the Carroll County Agriculture Center and fair was located in Taneytown. (Although the roots of the Carroll County 4-H and FFA Fair date back to Jan. 11, 1869, the current fair celebrates its origins to a picnic held Aug. 14, 1897 at the Otterdale Schoolhouse, in Taneytown.)

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The fair moved to Westminster in 1954, to the Ag Center, which was established as a private organization on March 20, 1954. Frock and a group of leaders purchased the land at the end of an old dirt lane off Gist Road, way outside of town, with their own money.

Dave Bollinger of Barnes- Bollinger Insurance said, "it is very evident to see all the hard work she put in to the Ag Center so that it is what is today. She inspired many young future leaders to enjoy their love of farming. For that matter, she essentially taught most of the ag leadership in Carroll County today."

Andy Cashman, the current president of ag center and part of the annual fair leadership for years, was quoted in Jones' 2006 article: "Frock's commitment to 4-H is admirable.

"This day and age it is tougher and tougher to get people to volunteer. The kids think it is pretty neat that she's been involved," Cashman said. "It is pretty important to her. She's a wonderful lady who puts a lot of effort into the program."

Among the many history items on display at her funeral was a 1995 governor's citation for 55 years of 4-H service. There were also references to her service as a member of the Carroll County 4-H Fair Board, the County Horticulture Club, the Carroll County Farm Museum, and the Family and Community Education (formerly known as Homemaker's Clubs) for 65 years.

Frock was inducted into Carroll County 4-H Fair Board's Hall of Fame, and was a member of Church Women United for more than 50 years.

She was a chief election judge at a Westminster polling locations for 20 years; a volunteer at the Carroll County Farm Museum as a tour guide and demonstrator of quilting and chair caning; and was a lifelong member of Emmanuel Baust United Church of Christ, where she was an Adult Sunday School teacher for more than 75 years.

She received the Outstanding Senior Citizen award in 1983.

Kathryn Frock was a blessing to the county, young adults and future leaders, and a community treasure. I never heard her say an unkind word about anyone. Her kindness, hard work, humility, dedication to community, her faith in God, her deep roots and historic connections in the community are irreplaceable.

When he is not missing Kathryn Frock's smile and encyclopedic memory, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com

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