Eugene Bowie Roberts, Jr. moved on to greener pastures on April 18th at the age of 80, in the
presence of his beloved wife and daughter.
Born October 16, 1939 in Washington, DC to Eugene Bowie Roberts and Cornelia Széchényi
Roberts, he grew up on Fairwood Farm in Prince George’s County, MD. This was the place he
later described as the most beautiful on earth, and it was here that he developed an early and
lifelong love of Angus cattle, maintaining a herd from the age of seven until the early 1990s. He
grew to be a man of drive, and integrity and measured passions.
He briefly attended the Potomac School and was in the Class of 1957 at St. Albans School,
which provided him with lifelong friends. He attended Yale University on what he called the
“extended warranty 7 year plan”, taking off time to work at Penn State’s Department of Animal
Husbandry where he lived in beef barns while working for Herman Purdy the legendary cattle
judge and Angus breeder. Roberts would joke that he got his degree from Yale, but his
education from Penn State.
His service in the Peace Corps 1964-66 as a Community Developer, Agricultural Extensionist,
and Volunteer Coordinator for Agricultural Projects in Colombia, South America, furnished
him with enduring skills, stories, and friendships.
After briefly working in Mayor John Lindsay’s Office in New York City, and on a congressional
campaign, he began his professional career at Robert R. Nathan Associates, a
Washington-based consulting company working on poverty, labor and health care. He then
earned his MBA in Finance at the University of Chicago in 1975. He rose to be Senior Director
of Planning at Northwest Industries, under the direction of Ben Heineman, managing the
long-range plan of the diversified holding company, whose operating companies included
Lone Star Steel and Fruit of the Loom, among many others.
It was through his good friend Sedgwick Mead that Roberts was introduced to Lynn Springer,
of St Louis, Missouri in 1978. Upon Lynn moving to Chicago to take on the role of Curator of
European Decorative Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago, they became reacquainted and
ultimately married on July 10, 1982. Later he said that there are several steps to leading a
happy life: the first is to marry Lynn Springer. They respected and supported each other’s
interests and built a beautiful, fulfilling life together in Chicago and later Maryland. He
explained, she took the puzzle pieces of his life and made him whole.
The family farm, “Fairwood”, shifted from livestock to turfgrass production in the mid-1960s,
and after his father died in 1983, Roberts managed what was now “Fairwood Turf Farm”, one of
the largest in Maryland. He relished his work there, and after several years of commuting from
Chicago, the family, which now included a daughter, Anne, moved to Upper Marlboro, MD
where Roberts threw himself into local business and farming projects. He served as President
of the Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce and of the Maryland Turfgrass Association, on
the Boards of the Maryland Turfgrass Council and the Maryland Agricultural Land
Preservation Foundation, and on the Maryland Agriculture Commission. Most recently he has
served as a Trustee and Chair of the Audit and Agriculture Committees for the Accokeek
Foundation. He advised on several Angus herds in Maryland and Virginia and was a
longstanding member of the Vansville Farmers Club of Prince George’s County, as his father
and grandfather had been since the 19th century.
He was able to maintain Fairwood as a successful farm for longer than many, including his
father, thought possible. As a planner, he recognized Washington’s expansion into Prince
George’s County, and with siblings, Bowie cousins, and the neighboring DeClairmont family,
he partnered with the Rouse Company to form the Rouse-Fairwood Development Corp. in
1988. Years of hard work resulted in the development of the mixed-use Fairwood Community.
With business partner and dear friend Sedgwick Mead, Roberts founded EBR Properties, a
small commercial real-estate development company with property in Clarendon, VA.
Family and family history were two of his great passions. Roberts quipped that he loved
genealogy, whether that applied to breeding cattle or tracing the branches of his own family
tree. Brice Clagett, a cousin and consummate genealogist, described Eugene as having the
most interesting lineage of anyone he had ever met. Roberts was a direct descendant of
George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore; Roger Williams, first proprietor of Rhode Island;
“King” Carter and Richard Henry Lee of Virginia; Governor Oden Bowie of Maryland;
Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt of New York; and the Széchényis of Hungary. Roberts found
joy and purpose in connecting people through and with their past. He did this by bringing
family together at every opportunity.
He served as Vice President of the Prince George’s County Historical Society; as a Trustee for
thirty years and Audit, Collections, Finance, Properties, and Château-sur-Mer Committee
member for the Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island; and as Governor of the
Society of the Ark and the Dove. He was also a member of the Southern Maryland Society, the
Maryland Historical Society, the Maryland Club, the Metropolitan Club, the Society of the
Cincinnati through the Connecticut Society, the Spouting Rock Beach Association, the
Newport Reading Room, the Clambake Club, and the Redwood Library.
He was a maker of lists, a whiz on the dance floor, a weaver of stories, a man of good humor
and wit, a true Maryland gentleman. If he taught us anything, it is that we must learn from
previous generations, and then do better.
He was predeceased by his sister, Cornelia “Nini” Roberts Coudenhove-Kalergi (Hans
Heinrich). He is survived by his wife Lynn Springer Roberts; daughter Anne Carter Bowie
Roberts of New Orleans; sister Gladys Roberts Thomas of New York; 5 nieces and nephews,
and 8 great-nieces and nephews; and by his Springer, Ferranto, and Williams nieces and
nephew, to whom he was also devoted.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to support the agricultural programs of the Accokeek Foundation: 3400 Bryan Point Road Accokeek, MD 20607; https://accokeekfoundation.org/; Riversdale Historical Society: Treasurer, Riversdale Historical Society, 6005 48th Ave., Riverdale Park, MD 20737 or the Preservation Society of Newport County: 424 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840; ; https://newportmansions.thankyou4caring.org/pages/donate-now to benefit future acquisitions.
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