Elsie Lee <I>Wood</I> Pyles

Elsie Lee Wood Pyles

Dickerson, Montgomery County, Maryland, USA
Death 8 Nov 2005 (aged 84)
Barnesville, Montgomery County, Maryland, USA
Burial Beallsville, Montgomery County, Maryland, USA
Plot Central Avenue North, Lot 5, Site 12
Memorial ID 14187288 · View Source
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- Alfred Worth Wood [1874-1941]
- Jessie Cleveland (Phillips) Wood [1884-1967]

Married William Darby Pyles

Frederick News-Post - November 10, 2005

Mrs. Elsie Lee Pyles, 84, of Barnesville, died suddenly on Tuesday, November 8, 2005 at her residence.
She was the wife of the late William D. Pyles.

Born on March 17, 1921 in Dickerson, she was the daughter of the late Alfred and Jessie Phillips Wood.

Surviving are two sisters, Hazel Ochs, Evelyn Carlin, both of Frederick, Md. and numerous nieces and nephews.

Mrs. Pyles was honored in 2004 with 50 years of volunteer service to the Montgomery County Agriculture Center in Gaithersburg.

Family will receive friends on Friday, November 11 from 7-9 p.m. at the Hilton Funeral Home, 22111 Beallsville Rd. (Rt. 109), Barnesville, Md. (hiltonfh.com) where funeral services will be held on Saturday, November 12 at 10:30 a.m. Interment will follow in Monocacy Cemetery, Beallsville, Md.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Barnesville Baptist Church, 1 791 7 Barnesville Road, Barnesville, MD 20838 or the Montgomery County Agricultural Center, 16 Chestnut St., Gaithersburg, Maryland 20877.

It's fair time, and Elsie Pyles is home again
The Gazette - Aug. 9, 2000

Elsie Pyles doesn't like notoriety. But as a 52-year volunteer in the Home Arts building at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, notoriety seems to have found her anyway.
Pyles will serve as the grand marshal for the parade Sunday, which marks 4-H Day and the opening of exhibit buildings to the public.

"I was kind of talked into it," Pyles said. "But I thought, 'It's my department and we should get some recognition somehow.'"

Pyles, who graduated from Poolesville High School in 1939 and lives in Barnesville, provides a historical perspective that spans the lifetime of the fair. In the mid-1940s, she served food at the first 4-H Club livestock shows. These shows set the stage for today's fair, which since its start in 1949 has become the largest county fair in Maryland.

"I remember the first fair, when they tied animals -- we didn't have buildings," said Pyles, 79. The Gaithersburg fairgrounds had just a few buildings during the early years and housed most exhibits in tents. "A thunderstorm came through and tore up the tents one year," Pyles said. "That was the end of tents."

Since then, the fairgrounds have expanded to include many more buildings, including the gray and white building that houses the 19 different categories of exhibits known as Home Arts. The Home Arts include exhibits of clothing, canning, rug-hooking, refinished antiques, weaving and crocheting, as well as various demonstrations throughout the week, including sheep shearing, wool carding and weaving.

"I think it's a wonderful display the way it's set up, and I think it's something worth seeing," Pyles said.

The Home Arts building houses some unique exhibits each year. "We had an Afghan made out of men's neckties last year," Pyles said.

This year's fair celebrates both "The Year of the Horse" and "The Year of the Home Arts." Pyles is the only Home Arts volunteer that has been there since the first fair and has served in all aspects of the department.

She now serves as a supervisor for the 25 registrars who receive and record every Home Arts exhibit. For five hours Thursday and seven hours Friday, Pyles will be on her feet in the non-air-conditioned building, overseeing the registration of more than 3,000 exhibits from over 1,000 exhibitors. "Until you work with it, you never realize the amount of work," she said.

State-certified judges review the exhibits, awarding monetary prizes and honorable mentions for the top five or six exhibits in each category. "It's nothing to have people enter 100 exhibits," Pyles said.

Home Arts volunteers must tag each exhibit with a number and record the exhibitor's name and address so that they can reclaim their exhibits at the fair's close. "I don't care if they enter a can of beans or a cow -- they all have an exhibit number," Pyles said.

Her fair duties used to include figuring out the premium money awarded to winning exhibitors -- an undertaking which until a few years ago, volunteers tackled without the aid of computers. When Pyles worked as a secretary with the Montgomery County Board of Education, she took vacation time in order to volunteer for such arduous tasks.

Pyles has become used to a certain level of notoriety resulting from her years of volunteering. People sometimes approach her while shopping, she said. "And I have no idea who they are. But they say, 'We know you -- you've been at that fair forever.' And I say, 'I know -- it's time for me to quit.'"

But Pyles does not really plan on quitting, she said. "I enjoy being there -- and the beautiful things we get in you can't believe that somebody made," she said. "It's amazing to see what we had when the Home Arts started and what we have now."

Pyles also enjoys seeing the same people each summer, she said. She credits her early relationships with fellow fair volunteers with motivating her to become a lifelong volunteer. When she started as a volunteer in her mid-20s, the older women treated her like a daughter or granddaughter, Pyles said. "That's why I stuck with Home Arts -- because those elderly ladies treated me so nice -- they encouraged me on," she said.

One such woman, who Pyles only remembers as "Mrs. King," had a special impact on Pyles. Elizabeth King was the matriarch of the King family that owned and operated a dairy farm on Frederick Road in Derwood. She also served as the co-supervisor of the Home Arts building. "To me, she was like a mother," Pyles said.

"She would sit there with dollar bills," Pyles said. "She started with $100 at 9 a.m. and her grandchildren and their friends would come up with their hands out and she would give them each a dollar-- remember you could get a Coke and a burger for a dollar in those days.

"She had no idea who she was giving them to. And I asked her, 'Mrs. King, if I lined up, would I get a dollar?' She said, 'Probably. I never look up.'"

For some volunteers in the Home Arts building, Pyles has become a similar kind of figure. Helen Hubbard, the chairwoman of the Home Arts building, has known Pyles since 1977 and served under her as a registrar. "She's a very good role model," Hubbard said. "You got good experience under Elsie. She's a good teacher."

Though Pyles, the widow of a dairy farmer, has no children of her own, the fair has become a family event. She has two nieces who started volunteering in the Home Arts building at age 9. At that age, children read well enough to serve as "gofers" -- carrying tagged exhibits to the various departments around the building. "A lot of these kids are now some of our registrars," Pyles said.

One of her nieces, who will soon start college, recently earned her life membership in the fair association. Members of the association must earn at least 200 volunteer hours before receiving their lifetime membership card, Pyles said.

Card carriers get free admission to the fair and can vote at the fair association's annual meeting. The association has 2,300 lifetime members, Pyles said. "They're really proud of that card," she said.

Pyles has contributed thousands of volunteer hours over the years, working 60 to 70 hours during the week of the fair alone. In addition to her tenure in the Home Arts building during fair week, she has also served on the fair's Board of Directors.

Pyles has ridden in the parade before, as part of a group of longtime volunteers who sit in a cart and are pulled along by an antique tractor. She does not see her duties as grand marshal as much different.

"It's just about riding in the parade for half an hour and waving at people," Pyles said. "That's all it means, 'cause I told them they weren't getting any speeches out of me."

Speeches or not, Pyles, who along with her late husband Bill served as one of the fair's founding families, brings a unique flavor to the building she has dedicated so much time to. "She brings the pioneering spirit of the Montgomery County fair right into the Home Arts building," Hubbard said.

~Sean Sedam Source

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bettie Ann Witt
  • Added: 5 May 2006
  • Find a Grave Memorial 14187288
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Elsie Lee Wood Pyles (17 Mar 1921–8 Nov 2005), Find a Grave Memorial no. 14187288, citing Monocacy Cemetery, Beallsville, Montgomery County, Maryland, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8) .