Mary Elizabeth Angel Durner
Date of Birth:  November 22, 1916
Date of Death:  July 4, 2008

  • Stallings Funeral Home, P.A.  
  • 3111 Mountain Road, Pasadena, MD 21122     View Map
  • Monday July 7, 2008   3:00 to 5:00 PM and 7:00 to 9:00 PM
  • Our Lady of the Fields Catholic Church  
  • 1070 Cecil Avenue South, Millersville, MD 21108     View Map
  • Tuesday July 8, 2008   10:00 AM
  • Meadowridge Memorial Park  
  • 7250 Washington Blvd., Elkridge, MD 21075     View Map
  • Tuesday July 8, 2008   Immediately following the funeral services
  • When Marie E. Angel Durner saw a niche that needed filling, she gathered up her friends and filled it.
    Along the way she helped create groups that included the Ann Arrundell County Historical Society, ran two well-known businesses and served as an orphan court judge with a future county executive.

    Now the lifelong county resident will be written into the history of this county she so dearly loved. Mrs. Durner died of natural causes July 4 at Fairfield Nursing and Rehabilitation in Crownsville. She was 91.

    The irony of a lover of history dying on Independence Day wasn't lost on those who knew Mrs. Durner.

    "That was typical of Marie. If she had a choice, she certainly would have done that," said Mary Calvert of Pasadena.

    She and her husband, Jim, are now the last surviving of the eight founders of the historical society.

    "Everybody loved Marie," Mrs. Calvert said, "She's just an extraordinary person. She was the backbone of the historical society. She was always right on top of things going on in the county."

    Marie Durner was born Nov. 22, 1916, in Baltimore to the late Samuel R. and Marie G. Angel, founders of Angel's Market. They started the iconic Pasadena business as a roadside stand and built it up to be a full-service grocery store.

    Mrs. Durner, as well as Mr. Calvert, were members of Glen Burnie High School's first graduating class in 1933.

    In 1938, the Angels handed over their store to their daughter and her husband of one year, Marvin A. Durner.

    The Durners lived in Pasadena and ran the store until 1960, when they sold it and moved to Crownsville to run a farm. At first they grew tobacco, according to daughter Joann M. Sim of Annapolis, who came to love horses growing up on the farm.

    Soon, the tobacco gave way to corn grown as feed for the horses the family acquired.

    "My parents did everything possible to help me," said Mrs. Sim, who recalled spending many weekends traveling to horse shows with her parents.

    Mrs. Durner became a real estate agent and a broker in 1962, a change that came as no surprise to former County Executive Janet Owens. Ms. Owens said her longtime friend seemed to know every piece of real estate in the county.

    In the 1970s, Mrs. Durner co-founded Severna Park Realty, then South Shore Realty in the 1980s. She retired as a broker in 1984.

    At the same time she was appointed as a judge on the county Orphans Court, eventually serving as chief judge until she retired in 1994. Ms. Owens served with her for eight years, overseeing estates and wills.

    "She was the kindest, most open-minded, tolerant human being. Very non-judgmental, which is ironic, given she was a judge," Mrs. Owens said.

    Mrs. Durner's most lasting legacy may be her role in preserving the county's history beyond Annapolis, not only as the editor of the historical society's newsletter "History Notes" from 1962 to 1991.

    Mrs. Durner and the other members worked to save the Benson Hammond House, a historic farmhouse on the grounds of BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. Now the society's home, the property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990 and is a lasting reminder of the community of Friendship bought out to build the airport.

    Mrs. Durner and her friends also took over the Kuethe Library in Glen Burnie, and a former power station for the B&A Short Line Railroad in Arnold now operated as The South Shop.

    Preserving the county's past may have been on her mind when she sold her family's Crownsville farmstead to Indian Creek School, which opened its Upper School campus on the property in 2006.

    "One of the things she said to me when we were working on the contract was 'I'd rather have children on my farm enjoying it than have it be a housing development." said Anne Chambers, founder of the private school.

    Ms. Chambers said the school intends to preserve and restore buildings on the farm, including the family farmhouse and smokehouse.

    Other organizations Mrs. Durner helped form include the Severn Cross Roads Foundation in 1978, the Lake Shore Volunteer Fire Company's Ladies Auxiliary and a county Soroptimists Club chapter.

    "She's part of a whole generation of older women who played such an important role in the building of (this county's) institutions," Ms. Owens said.

    Mrs. Durner was preceded in death by her husband in 1995; her parents; one brother; and one sister.

    Besides her daughter, Mrs. Sims, survivors include four sons, John Durner of Durham, N.C., Robert Durner of Glen Burnie, Samuel Durner of Denton and Lawrence Durner of Towson; one brother, Robert Angel of Sea Level, N.C.; five grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

    A Mass of Christian burial was offered yesterday at her church, Our Lady of the Fields Catholic Church. Interment is in Meadowridge Memorial Park. Arrangements were by Stallings Funeral Home.

    Memorial contributions may be made to the Ann Arrundell County Historical Society, P.O. Box 385, Linthicum, MD 21090.