Janet McKegg was born in 1954 in Washington County General Hospital and spent the first 18 years of her life in Pleasant Valley, about 10 miles south of Boonsboro.
She loved nature and its creatures from her earliest years, and also loved horses from the first time she saw one, getting astride a draft horse before she was 2.
She attended the University of Maryland at College Park, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in wildlife biology. She began her 28-year career with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as a ticket taker at Cunningham Falls State Park and progressed from that to becoming the DNR's first woman wildlife biologist.
Her work at various positions in DNR included coordinating programs affecting the Chesapeake Bay, managing wildlife issues in Montgomery and Howard counties, providing input on wildlife issues to forestry programs, evaluating potential land purchases for Program Open Space, and directing the Natural Heritage Program, which is Maryland's threatened and endangered species program.
She married Al McKegg, a freelance energy and environmental writer, in 1980. They remained married until her death.
In 2005, at the age of 51, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and retired later that year. She was cared for at home by her husband until June 2009, when she moved to Elternhaus, an assisted-care home in Dayton, Md. She died at Elternhaus on March 9. Her body was cremated by the Metro Crematory in Baltimore.
She was a member of the Brownsville Church of the Brethren, and is survived by her husband, Al; daughter, Gillian; brothers, Barry and Gary Sponaugle; sister, Harlie Sponaugle; and mother, Ennis Sponaugle.
A celebration of her life is planned at a date yet to be determined.
Anyone wishing to memorialize her may donate to one of the organizations that embody her love of life on this Earth, such as the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy or the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
JAN. 5, 1954-MARCH 9, 2012
Janet McKegg (Submitted photo)