Maryland will miss…
…Potomac Hunt Club joint Master Peter Hitchen, who died January 12 from complications related to injuries sustained in a fall foxhunting on December 11. He was 76.
Peter was born in New Moston, a suburb of Manchester, England, on October 23, 1938, to Marion Platt Hitchen and John Hitchen. The family persisted through the relentless German bombing of the industrial city during World War II and was forced to temporarily evacuate Manchester to live in Cheshire until the closing of the war. He attended the Moston Primary School and went to work early in life on the three family farms located around Cheshire and instantly fell in love with farming and the outdoors. This fortuitous introduction to land stewardship and farming inadvertently introduced Peter to riding workhorses while making hay and riding to and from the hay fields. Farming and the outdoors quickly overshadowed school and his thirst for world travel and adventure.
The British requirement of two years National Service in the armed forces led him to join the Army in 1956. He immediately signed on for an additional three years so that he was guaranteed overseas deployment. He spent six years in the Royal Artillery and served in Malaysia during the communist insurrection and later served in Hong Kong fighting the Chinese communists. He achieved the rank of Full Bombardier and was charged with managing the Signal Corp of the Royal Artillery. One of his commanding officers, Lt. Col. H. A. Hardy, MBE, MC, RA, described Peter as: “a conscientious and intelligent young NCO. He is completely trustworthy and accepts responsibility willingly. He has the initiative and drive to get things done.” He lived his entire life in accordance with this self-imposed doctrine.
After leaving the Army in early 1962 Peter briefly worked in a candy factory to save enough so that he could achieve the lifelong dream of traveling to America and made the passage later that year. He settled in the Washington, D.C. area and put himself through Ben Franklin University, working nights at the original Clyde’s in Georgetown and culminating in earning his CPA Degree. During this time, he was introduced to the sport of foxhunting by a friend and also met his future bride, Nancy Tilton Orme of Leesburg. She encouraged his involvement with hunting to hounds at The Loudoun Hunt and the sport became his lifelong passion.
He married Nancy in 1965 and together they had three children, Hilary in 1967, Peter in 1970, and Brad in 1971. The couple later divorced. His second marriage to Janet Goldberg Holloway also ended in divorce.
In 1971, Peter was recruited by Buster Day to come work at his Francis O. Day Company, a paving and excavating company located in Rockville, Maryland where he spent 35 years assisting the Day family in running the prestigious and successful paving and development business. He achieved the title of Vice President and Chief Comptroller of the F.O. Day Company, Inc. and retired in 2007.
Peter never let anything interfere with his maturing love and passion for fox hunting and after many seasons of whipping in at the New Market/Middletown Hounds and later at The Potomac Hunt Club, Peter joined Irvin L. (Skip) Crawford as Joint Master of the Potomac Hunt in 1987. With Huntsman, Larry Pitts, they oversaw the development of what is arguably one of the premier pack of American foxhounds in the United States, giving good sport to their members year after year. Peter was also heavily involved in the organizing and running The Potomac Hunt Races every May, one of the most respected and popular meets among steeplechase horsemen. He was also a successful steeplechase owner whose good luck brought him many winners, most notably Daily Desire, who won him the title of Maryland Steeplechase Owner of the Year in 1991. R. B. Billy, co-owned with Skip Crawford, won the Maryland Steeplechase Timber title several years later. And since 1996, he has served as the treasurer of the Maryland Steeplechase Association.
Peter had a legendary, compelling, and commanding presence, which naturally attracted people of all walks of life. He was an intuitive and cunning businessman, a natural horseman, a devoted father and friend, and faced his last challenge as bravely as he had faced every other challenge in his life.
He is survived by his loving family, daughter Hilary Luttrell Hitchen Bateman and her husband, Chuck; son Peter Orme Hitchen, his wife Melanie and daughter Madilyn Nancy; son John Bradford Hitchen; and his devoted companion of 15 years, Anne Ragland Finney.
Per the wishes of Master Hitchen, services will be held Saturday, January 24 at the Potomac Hunt Club at 2:45 p.m., commencing with a stirrup cup and followed by the memorial service. The Hunt Club is located at 21315 Peach Tree Road, Dickerson, MD 20842.
Memorial donations in Peter Hitchen’s memory may be made to The Potomac Hunt Club, 21315 Peach Tree Road, Dickerson, MD 20842.
Please share your memories of and stories about Peter in the comment field below, or email them to email@example.com for a future edition of The Equiery.
The obituary of Peter was really well done and really captured Peter in all ways . He was a wonderful guy and a good friend. God bless you Peter, your friend George
Peter was one of the finest men I have ever had the pleasure to meet, and as funny a conversationalist as there has been. To describe him as a raconteur would be an understatement. My heart and my sympathy goes out to his fine children and to Anne.