Sara Gail Clagett, tunnel toll collector

Sara Gail Clagett, a retired Harbor Tunnel toll collector and a gardener, died of pulmonary disease Sunday at her son's Charles Village home. The longtime Highlandtown resident was 72.

Born Sara Gail Friesland in Pine Swamp, N.C., she was the daughter of James Wade Friesland, a country musician, and Bertie Vannoy Friesland, a homemaker. She moved to Baltimore at age 8 and attended Kenwood High School, later earning a General Educational Development certificate.

Mrs. Clagett was a Maryland Transportation Administration toll collector and supervisor at the Harbor Tunnel from 1970 until her 1998 retirement. She attained the rank of corporal. Family members said she helped organize union representation by ASCME for the toll takers.

They said she also was a devoted gardener.

"She was known in the neighborhood as 'the flower lady,' and people would often drive or walk by her home and stop to ask her about the garden," said her son, David Alan Clagett of Highlandtown.

She transformed what had been a concrete yard into a garden with zinnias, marigolds, mums, Mexican roses, impatiens, begonias and angel trumpets.

She was a Baltimore Ravens fan and a member of a Ravens' Roost booster club. She also enjoyed crochet work and solving puzzles.

"My mother was an expert scavenger of thrift shops, where she found many wonderful collectibles that she called her little treasures," her son said.

Mrs. Clagett enjoyed watching TV mystery and crime dramas, including "Murder, She Wrote," "Matlock," "Columbo" and "Law and Order."

Services will be held at noon Thursday at the Joseph N. Zannino Jr. Funeral Home, 263 S. Conkling St.

Survivors include three sons, Mark Joseph Clagett, Jeffrey Lee Clagett and David Alan Clagett, all of Baltimore; and her sister, Mary Emge of Essex. Her husband of 34 years, Leroy Eugene Clagett, a Bethlehem Steel worker, died in 1991.

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