Agnes Marie Taylor, 100, who worked as a switchboard operator for the old Lee House Hotel and for the Southern Railway in Washington before retiring in 1960, died of bladder cancer Aug. 10 at St. Mary's Nursing Center in Leonardtown.
She was born in Hollywood, Md., on Nov. 5, 1904, in the back of the grocery store her father ran. Bowles Store, as it was named, still stands at Route 245 and Forest Landing Road and is a historic landmark in St. Mary's County.
She attended a one-room schoolhouse in which one teacher tended seven grades. For many Sunday mornings, she walked five miles from her home to St. Johns Francis Regis Catholic Church in Hollywood. When her mother remarried, the family traveled by buggy to the church, where Mrs. Taylor was baptized, had her first communion and will be buried.
As a young girl, she developed a strong work ethic on the family farm, which had rows of tobacco and vegetables. "Mr. Evans, her stepfather, said she was a better worker than all the boys," said her daughter, Gloria Marie Tippett of Hollywood. "That was one of her claims to fame."
In the early 1920s, she left St. Mary's to study nursing in the District, which she called one of the happiest times of her life, her daughter said. She trained at the old Casualty Hospital. During that time, she met Roy Campbell. They were married for seven years and had two daughters before he died in 1931.
About 1940, she became a switchboard operator, first at the Lee House Hotel, where she met her second husband, Tom Taylor. Shortly afterward, she began manning the switchboard at Southern Railway. She often was on call, driving from her home in Silver Hill to downtown Washington and working hours that no one else wanted.
After she and her husband retired, they traveled to Europe and Hawaii and went on several cruises. At age 85, she traveled alone to Hawaii to visit a granddaughter who was stationed there.
Mrs. Taylor enjoyed working in her yard and playing the card game Tripoli, never wanting to bet less than a nickel. She liked going to church dinners and visiting people in nursing homes when she was able.
An outgoing woman, she drove a car until she was 95, giving it up only when, on the way to a luncheon, she got two tickets -- one for driving 55 in a 35-mph zone and the other for evading arrest. She challenged the tickets in court but did not prevail and lost her driver's license.
She celebrated her 100th birthday with two parties last year. At Cedar Lane Apartments in Leonardtown, where she lived, a country music band played her favorite tunes, citations from the governor and city officials were presented and a tree was planted in her honor. Even the governor of New Mexico -- where a granddaughter lives -- sent her a picture and congratulatory note. The next afternoon, family members and friends honored her at the Officers' Club at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.
Tom Taylor died in 1987. A daughter, June Theresa Tippett, died in 1986.
In addition to her daughter, Gloria, survivors include a brother, Joe "Lots" Evans of Leonardtown; 12 grandchildren; and 17 great-grandchildren.