Nettie Mae Burgess, 92, a real estate broker in Montgomery County for more than 50 years who had worked to help preserve the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal as a historical site, died Thursday of arteriosclerotic heart disease at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.
A native of Ames, Iowa, Mrs. Burgess moved to Brookmont in Montgomery County about 1912, when the area was still a cornfield along the Potomac River palisades. She had lived for more than 50 years in a house built by her family.
She began selling real estate in 1929 and had maintained her own business for more than 40 years. Some of her most notable properties included Graceland in Cabin John, a plantation estate she restored, and the William Reading manor house, including its old slave quarters, which was built in 1853 in Montgomery County.
In the 1940s, Mrs. Burgess wrote a column for Montgomery County weekly newspapers like the Sentinel, the Bethesda Journal and the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Tribune. Originally called "Along Conduit Road," the column was later renamed "Along MacArthur Boulevard" when the street was renamed in honor of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
In 1938, as chairman of the Brookmont C & O Canal Committee, she was instrumental in initiating walks from Glen Echo to Great Falls, and from there to Seneca, so government officials could explore the canal route and make plans to protect it.
Active in the Garden Club League, the Wildflower and Audubon societies and the Brookland Garden Club, she helped organize many flower shows and was noted for her own gardens of indigenous wildflowers.
Mrs. Burgess was active in Brookmont Baptist Church and arranged the flowers at Sunday and holiday services. She was a charter member of the National Capital Federation of Garden Clubs.
She had planted and maintained her own vegetable garden until about two years ago.
Survivors include a daughter, Marguerite B. Stuart of Cabin John, and a granddaughter.