Riceboro native and lifelong Liberty County resident Mary LeCounte Baggs died Thursday, according to Baggs’ family friend and Riceboro mayor, Bill Austin. Baggs was 100 years old.
She grew up in an area known as Treesa Hill. Baggs and her late husband, Earl M. Baggs, who was the first black elected official in Liberty County since the post-Civil War reconstruction era, met at Dorchester Academy in the 1920s. The couple married and had two children, James Stanley and Edytha “Dottie” Baggs Mountain. Both are deceased.
“Mother Baggs will be sorely missed. Everybody in the community and the county as a whole thought so much of her. They cherished her as a member of the community and relied on her, really,” said Austin, who attends the same church as Baggs and was her neighbor. “We’ll miss her. We’ll really miss her.”
Baggs’ granddaughter, Rakael Mountain Brown, said that her family will miss its matriarch, but they’re thankful she enjoyed a long, full life.
“In this time of sorrow, she will be greatly missed. We’re sad, but we’re also happy because we’re celebrating the great life she lived,” Mountain Brown said.
Baggs, a former educator, earned a master’s degree in lower elementary education from New York University in 1955 and returned to Riceboro to teach. She taught at Pine Hill School, Riceboro Elementary and Jordye Bacon Elementary. She retired in 1971 after about 40 years in the education field and was named Liberty County’s teacher of the year.
Baggs was on the front lines of the civil-rights movement in Liberty County. She helped organize the first black voter registration drive in the county.
She has held many positions with area organizations, including president of the Dorchester Improvement Association; charter member, president and vice president of the Liberty Retired Teachers Association; charter member and president of the Cosmopolitan Club; charter member and president of the Liberty County chapter of the NAACP; member of the Silver Haired Legislature for five years; member of the Emancipation Proclamation Observance Committee; and member of the Limerick Chapter No. 336 Order of the Eastern Stars.
Funeral arrangements, which will be handled by Dorchester Funeral Home in Midway, will be announced soon.