Jean Hepner, who dedicated more than half of her 91 years to her historic house on Fell St. and to her garden behind the Preservation Society’s Robert Long House, was killed Feb. 1, 2014 in a collision on the Beltway, along with her longtime partner, Ben Carlson, 90, who was driving. The other driver was uninjured. They were returning from a visit to Ben’s son near D.C. Carlson and his late wife were close friends of the Hepners through the Road Fight.
This community thus lost the second matron of its survival and revival. Lucretia Fisher, who sold Jean the 18th century Captain Steele House in 1968, died at 88 in 2011, having left her similarly historic 1732 Thames St. to the Society.
The mother of four children with the late Dr. Ray Hepner, Jean and their restored house were an annual fixture of the Society Mothers’ Day House Tours. Another retired matron of the Society, Romaine Somerville, recalled in an April 2012 piece for The ‘Pointer that 1931 Fell was in such wretched shape that “the Hepners took three years to get the house livable”--camping out at an adjacent property. The occasion for the article was Jean’s having sold the house and retired with Ben to Oakcrest Village in Parkville.
Jean received the emeritus 9/11 Selfless Community Service Award in 2008, when she re-called “carrying her knitting, and a tape recorder hidden within, to tense Road Fight meetings with officials.”
In an unsigned remembrance of Jean on the web, a grand-daughter wrote: “I’m glad that we had the time to visit the Robert Long House and walk around the beautiful garden that she had painstakingly, methodically researched and planted with the flowering plants and herbs that would have been present in colonial Baltimore. . . My grandmother knew an enormous amount about plants, a passion and knowledge base that she passed on to her children . . . with any number of other things. One of the most precious gifts . . was a perfect Meyer lemon from the tree that resided in her sunny drawing room on Fell Street.