Margaret Fisher Linvill, 88, of Media, a former educator and matriarch of the family that has owned and operated Linvilla Orchards in Delaware County for five generations, died Saturday, Aug. 11, at Riddle Memorial Hospital of complications from a stroke.
Mrs. Linvill, known as "Peg," met Paul Linvill, her future husband, at a Quaker work camp in Mexico and married him in 1957. In doing so, she joined the third generation of Linvills to be stewards of Linvilla Orchards. Paul's father, Arthur, and grandmother, Lydia, purchased the farmland in 1914.
Between 1953 and 1959, when the couple had their first child, Mrs. Linvill taught at Friends' Central School in Wynnewood and Westtown Friends School in West Chester.
She stopped teaching school to focus on raising their four children and to help at the family farm – a 300-acre fruit, produce, and entertainment business along West Knowlton Road in Middletown Township that hosts visitors, especially in the fall. The children assist in the business.
Mrs. Linvill started and managed the gift shop that was situated upstairs in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, in the farm's unusual octagonal barn. The 80-foot-tall structure was built in 1889.
Mrs. Linvill taught classes there, sharing her knowledge of local flowers and her creativity in flower-arranging and wreath-making, before the barn was destroyed in a fast-moving fire in 2002. It was replaced by a one-story farm market building.
Mrs. Linvill also created the farm's Pumpkinland, a family-oriented entertainment venue with a harvest theme. Families came by the hundreds on fall weekends to pick a pumpkin, take a hayride, and enjoy scary Halloween figures.
"It has touched thousands of visitors every year," said her daughter Susan Jochum. "It was Mom's magic."
Born to Royal O. and Elizabeth Fisher of East Haddam, Conn., Mrs. Linvill intended to follow in the footsteps of her father, an elementary school principal in East Haddam.
She graduated from Nathan Hale High School there and earned a bachelor of science degree in education from the University of Vermont in 1951. She earned a master's degree in English from the University of Connecticut in 1953.
Known for her intellectual prowess, Mrs. Linvill read at least two newspapers a day to stay current on world events. She liked novels, but her true passion was poetry. Her favorite poet was Mary Oliver, whose work she liked to read aloud while seated in the family farmhouse.
"I can still hear her in her chair," Jochum said. "When I had tough days in the office, she would bring me a poem in the office and put it on top of my work.
" 'Come on, this is real,' " she would say, Jochum recalled.
Mrs. Linvill and her husband traveled to all seven continents to broaden their cultural horizons. They toured Europe, China, and the South Pacific. Often, they took their children and grandchildren with them.
"The coolest trip was when they went to Antarctica on a Russian research vessel that was observing penguins. Mom loved the penguins. She wanted to go see the penguins," her daughter said.
During 61 years of marriage, the Linvills had one adventure after another. They traveled only in winter because summer and fall are the farm's peak seasons and they had to be there to help.
"There were no days off from August until after Christmas," their daughter said. "It takes more than you have to give."
Mrs. Linvill was an active member of Providence Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, where she taught religious education. She also supported Quaker education by serving on the board of directors of the Media-Providence School.
She was interested in American Indian culture, local history, and her family's genealogy.
In addition to her daughter and husband, she is survived by daughters Nancy Dole and Jean Hannemann; a son, Steven; and eight grandchildren.
A visitation from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, at Providence Friends Meeting, 105 N. Providence Rd., Media, will be followed by a Quaker-style memorial meeting for worship at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, at the meeting house. Burial is private.