- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Robert T. Jarboe, who died Sunday in a tractor accident at his farm near Callaway, was remembered this week for his love of the county he served for two terms as a county commissioner.
A spokesperson for the state medical examiner’s office said Tuesday that an autopsy determined that Jarboe’s accidental death was caused by multiple injuries. St. Mary’s detectives report that Jarboe, 79, was run over by a farm tractor and was found lying underneath the machinery at his property off Medley’s Neck Road.
“That man had St. Mary’s County at heart. He was always that way,” said William Edward Bailey Sr., who was elected with Jarboe to St. Mary’s board of commissioners in 1986.
The two Democrats won office that year in the aftermath of a widespread political corruption investigation, and both were defeated eight years later in their bid for a third term, amid a nationwide Republican surge.
“We both went in at the same time, [and] we went out at the same time,” Bailey said. “All five Republicans [in the general election for county commissioner] went in that year.”
Barbara Thompson, a Republican elected to the board in 1990, said this week that the commissioners at that time were preparing for new jobs to move to Patuxent River Naval Air Station. “We were in a recession in the early ’90s as well,” she said. “The county’s tax base was fairly low. We needed to do a lot of catch up in school renovation and school building.”
Jarboe and Bailey often were on the minority side of split votes, Thompson said, as they were more fiscally conservative.
As a farmer, Jarboe “was able to bring that perspective to the commissioner board,” Thompson said. She said of his death, “It’s something, after all the years of farming, that would happen to him.”
Jarboe was a past president and current member of the St. Mary’s County Farm Bureau.
Joseph Wood, vice president of the farm bureau, said, “It’s a tragedy. Farming is not a real safe occupation. A lot of things can happen out there while farming. That’s why they call them accidents. They can happen at any time.”
Jarboe either inadvertently placed the tractor in gear while climbing off it, or fell off the tractor while it was in gear, according to detectives. Jarboe fell behind the tractor, the investigators report, and was struck.
St. Mary’s 911 dispatchers sent emergency crews to the scene at Pear Hill Road at 11:29 a.m. Sunday, online dispatch reports state, and detectives report that police also responded to the farm.
Wood said of Jarboe’s long commitment to farm work, “He didn’t retire. He kept right on going. He was just a great help to agriculture.”
Bailey, who turned 77 on Monday, recalled that when he and Jarboe were county commissioners, the board’s members would do their homework and have one-on-one discussions about the issues. “We had our differences, but we talked them out,” Bailey said. “We’d all come to some kind of consensus.”
Services for Jarboe will include visitation from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 14, with prayers at 7 p.m., at Holy Face Catholic Church in Great Mills. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 15, at the church.