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Sweigert holds county close to her heart

August 31, 2009|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- Edith Sweigert grew up in Germany, but after living in the United States for more than 50 years, her roots are definitely American.

Sweigert, 87, said she moved to the United States in 1952 and married Clarence "Tunie" Sweigert, whom she met during World War II when she was working for the U.S. Army at Stuttgart military base.

"I was one of those proverbial war brides," Sweigert said.

She has lived in the same modest Hagerstown home since the late 1950s. Her husband, who was from Keedysville, died in 1990.

"My husband said when he married me that he didn't have much to offer me, but that I'd always have a home. This country has given me a new home," Sweigert said.

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In return, Sweigert, whose maiden name is Weigelt, has left an indelible mark on the county she has called home for more than half a century. On Sunday, she was honored at Everybody's Day at Pen Mar Park for her involvement in the purchase of the park by Washington County.

Sweigert worked as an administrator for the Washington County Parks Department from 1971 to 1992. She was instrumental in applying for Program Open Space funds for the county to purchase Pen Mar Park, which reopened under the auspices of Washington County in 1977.

"There were so many people involved, most of all the good crews involved in the Parks Department," Sweigert said.

She remains an active volunteer for the Washington County Sheriff's Department, which helped with traffic and crowd control for the summer Sunday concerts/dances at the park over the years.

"I do fingerprinting with my old buddies," Sweigert said.

After her retirement from the parks department, Sweigert began volunteering at the Division of Rehabilitation Services for the Maryland State Department of Education in Frederick, Md., where her daughter, Christine Sweigert, worked. Since Christine moved to the Hagerstown office three years ago, Edith Sweigert helps out there one day a week, doing a "little bit of everything," including filing, making copies and answering the phone.

Sweigert has no grandchildren, but has an extended family of nephews and nieces who are an important part of her life. She was the middle of three daughters. Her oldest sister died young. Her youngest sister lives in Arlington, Va.

She said there is no family left in Germany and that it's easy to call Washington County home.

"It's just because people are so very nice here. They're great folks. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else," Sweigert said.

Sweigert still drives, although only during daylight hours. In her quiet time at home, she likes to read and knit. She also enjoys the beauty of the area.

"Washington County is really blessed. It has a little bit of everything -- mountains and water not far away. It's a little miniature of the state of Maryland," Sweigert said. "If you've ever gone to Pen Mar at sunset and seen the sun go down, you don't need a photograph. It's right there in your heart."

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