Olga von Hartz Owens, career botanist and avid Chesapeake Bay sailor who built a sailboat in her backyard, dies – Baltimore Sun


Olga von Harts Owens, a professional botanist, accomplished landscaper, and avid sailor who built a sailing vessel in the backyard of her Ruxton home, died on 3 January in the retirement community of Chestertown. He died of complications from a fall at home in Heron Point. she was 98 years old.

Olga von Harts-Owens was the daughter of James Hamilton Owens and editor of The Evening Sun and later The Sun when she was appointed editor-in-chief of The Sun from 1938 to 1943. was a veteran journalist who was Born 1956 in Baltimore.

She is also the daughter of Olga von Harts Owens and named after her. Her daughter spent her childhood in Lutherville before moving with her family to Ryderwood.

HL Mencken was not only a professional Sun colleague of his father, but also a close personal friend, allowing him to observe prominent columnists, editors, and writers who were frequent visitors to his parents’ home in Riderwood. rice field.

A Park School graduate, Mr. Owens received a BA in Botany from Bennington College in Vermont in 1945.

After additional graduate studies at the Universities of Minnesota and Harvard, he received a master’s degree in botany from Connecticut College, New London in 1946 and a doctorate in botany from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1972. bottom.

She held a series of positions at scientific institutions, including the Institute for Advanced Study, then in Baltimore, where she was an Associate Fellow in the Biological Sciences Group.

“I want to do something to help humanity,” Owens explained in a 1989 Sun interview.

After earning his doctorate, Owens became a grant manager for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, where he worked until his retirement in the late 1990s, family members said.

Owens didn’t limit his research to the lab. According to her submitted biography, she spent much of her free time exploring the natural areas of the United States, often sharing her experiences with her family. by her family.

She is the consummate world traveler, traveling to Italy in her 90s after recovering from a broken hip.

A lifelong sailor of the Chesapeake Bay, Mr. Owens was an active member of the Annapolis Severn Sailing Association and was a leader in founding and racing the organization’s O’Day Sailer Fleet.

She was also the association’s first female director and “one of many examples in her life and career where she was a trailblazer.”

Her nephew, John Gillespie, of Chestertown, says, “She was in her 70s when she built a sailboat in the Ruxton garden and later sailed on Loch Roland.”

Owens was an accomplished painter and continued to paint well into her 90s, her nephew said.

“She was painting entirely landscapes, but she was also painting figures like Edward Hopper,” said Gillespie.

“When I moved to Heron Point, I was able to rekindle my passion for painting with the help of other artists,” Owens explained in a 2019 interview with Kent County News. . “I have attended workshops and classes and will continue to enjoy the challenge and the effort that comes with it.”

Owens was also the driving force behind establishing an art studio in the Heron Point retirement community he settled in 1996.

“She was a very warm, outgoing person who always had her head on. She was unmarried, childless and in many ways a very private person,” said her aunt, describing her as a “very independent person.” ‘ said the nephew who expressed it.

“She was always a problem solver. If she needed something, she made it. For example, she made the furniture herself.”

Mr. Gillespie recalled watching his aunt get ready for a solo hike as a child.

“She had a backpack and other necessities and was getting ready to go hiking and camping alone,” he said. “She was a very adventurous woman.”

The memorial service is private.

In addition to Gillespie, Owens, who was the youngest of five siblings, has 11 nieces and nephews, grandpas and grandpas.



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