Eva Thieblot kept a sharp focus on family, home and community

August 08, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." The story will take a look back at a member of the community who died in the past week through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Eva P. Thieblot, who died Aug. 4 at the age of 97. Her obituary appeared in the Aug. 5 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

As Armand Thieblot reflected on his mother's active and multifaceted life, he focused on her kindness and her cooking, both of which were bestowed upon him and his family members in great portions through the years.

Eva P. Thieblot died Aug. 4 at the age of 97 at Washington County Hospital after a brief illness.

"She had a small stroke a few weeks ago," Armand said Thursday by telephone from his home in Baltimore. "A very healthy woman, it was her first night in a hospital since my birth in 1940."


Born in Hagerstown, Armand said his parents had come to town seven years earlier.

"We lived on Hamilton Boulevard for a time and then moved into the house in Fountain Head, where mother lived out her life," he said.

The elder Armand Thieblot, who passed away in 1978, for many years was chief engineer of Fairchild Aircraft in Hagers-town. He later founded and was president of Thieblot Aircraft in Bethesda, Md., and Martinsburg, W.Va.

Eva concerned herself with her two sons and her work in the community, which took many forms.

"Mother was a very active gardener," Armand said. "There were victory gardens during World War II and even after the war."

When the family moved to the Fountain Head home in 1959, Eva took the spruce trees from Hamilton Boulevard and had them replanted at the new house.

"They are so large now, they could be national Christmas trees," Armand said.

From the large to the very small, Eva also had a lifelong love affair with bonsai, the art of dwarfing and shaping trees and shrubs.

"My mom and Mable Walter traveled to Japan to learn more about bonsai," Armand said. When his mother returned home, she lectured on the unique art form.

As the memories began to tumble out, Armand chuckled when he remembered his mother's reputation in yachting.

"We would always say she wasn't so much a yachtswoman as she was a water witch," Armand said. "No matter how clear the skies were when she would go out on a boat, a storm would always come up."

Growing up in an Italian family in Hackensack, N.J., Eva had a chance meeting one day with a young French aircraft engineer from Paris named Armand Thieblot - an encounter that would redefine her life.

When her husband of 49 years died, Eva continued to live at the house in Fountain Head. The house was very special to her for many reasons, Armand said, not the least of which was that it had been designed by her other son, Robert.

An attorney in Baltimore, Robert said he told his mother recently that only one in 500,000 people reach the age of 97.

"Her response to that was that she didn't feel that old," Robert said Thursday by telephone from his office. "It's a blessing to live as active as she did."

In addition to that energy, her peach pie, Spanish rice and a very special pizza with bacon always will be part of Robert's thoughts of his mother.

Jan Rinehart, widow of former Fairchild executive Theron Rinehart, said she remembers Eva as a gracious and wonderful hostess.

"Although she wasn't at first, she became a gourmet cook over the years and her kitchen reflected that," Rinehart said. "There were several extra ovens to accommodate her entertaining."

On one particular occasion, Rinehart recalled being treated to special entertainment by a pianist who, despite having been brutalized in Germany during the war, had regained his ability to perform.

"The performance was in the music room at the house, which was also quite special," Rinehart said.

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