Barton Childs, 93
In the proverbial nature-versus-nurture debate, the eminent Johns Hopkins University pediatric geneticist, researcher, and educator Dr. Barton Childs came down squarely in the middle, once writing, “disease is as much a consequence of variation in our social and cultural organization as biological, and management is best directed to whichever component is most amenable.” In his nearly 70 years at JHU, Childs, who died this past February, pioneered the study of inherited diseases, exploring in his research how the human genome causes physiological abnormalities.
Born in suburban Chicago, Childs earned a medical degree in 1942 from Hopkins, where, with only a few years elsewhere, he spent his entire professional career, including serving as the first director of genetics in the school’s department of pediatrics. In that capacity and in his published work, he steadfastly emphasized the importance of incorporating genetics into all medical areas.
Dr. David Valle, a professor and director of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Hopkins, characterized his colleague as “a visionary in genetics and pediatrics, a deep and rigorous thinker committed to the integration of genetics and medicine, to the individuality of us all, and to education at all levels.”
Charles McC. Mathias, 87
In the current climate of extreme political bipartisanship, the term “liberal Republican” looks like an oxymoron. And yet Charles “Mac” Mathias, who from 1961 to 1987 represented Maryland in Congress (four terms in the House of Representatives, three in the Senate), embodied the phrase, vigorously advocating for legislation supporting racial equality, better housing, voting rights, public financing for election campaigns, and protection of the Chesapeake Bay.
Mathias sparred publicly with the White House during the administrations of Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, landing him on the former’s notorious “enemies list” for defending school desegregation and opposing the Vietnam War. And when he registered displeasaure with Reagan’s efforts to diminish existing voting and housing rights, Republicans punished Mathias by blocking his appointment to a key Senate committee.
Born in Frederick, Mathias served in municipal and state government posts before moving on to Congress, where his principled approach to campaign financing during his 1974 Senate run prompted Democratic leader Mike Mansfield to dub him “the conscience of the Senate.” And when Mathias died this past January, his former Senate colleague, Paul Sarbanes, a Democrat, reinforced that notion, telling The New York Times, “Mac commanded enormous respect on both sides of the aisle.”
Sylvia Badger, 72
Pre-snarkiness-era parties-and-people columnist for the News-American, Evening Sun, and Sun genteelly covered theater openings, charity fundraisers, and bold-faced events, such as the wedding of Cal and Kelly Ripken.
Martha Benton, 68
Dedicated advocate for city public-housing residents devoted decades to improving quality-of-life issues for the poor through her posts on Housing Authority committees and board.
Carol Helme Brewster, 92
Actress, model, and accomplished equestrian co-owned, with husband Sen. Daniel Brewster, Glyndon’s Worthington Farms, where they annually hosted the Maryland Hunt Cup steeplechase race and its attendant gala.
Eugene B. Brody, 88
Internationally admired University of Maryland School of Medicine mental health expert probed the societal causes for behavioral diseases, championing the rights of sufferers worldwide.
Quintin Dailey, 49
Sensational shooter set state basketball scoring records in the late 1970s at Cardinal Gibbons High School, before a sexual assault conviction and substance-abuse problems plagued his college play and professional career.
Martin E. Dannenberg, 94
World War II Army intelligence officer discovered the original 1935 copy of the Hitler-signed Nuremberg Laws that denied Jews their German citizenship and inaugurated the Holocaust.
John H. Fischer, 99
City schools superintendent smoothly integrated public schools in the wake of the Supreme Court’s historic 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, making Baltimore the first large American city to desegregate its schools.
John B. “Punkey” Foard III, 75
Co-owner of Cockeysville’s Valley View Farms garden center guided the operation’s expansion into its trademark Christmas decorations business, creating a glittering annual holiday display that attracts hordes of shoppers.
William Donald Borders, 96
In his 15 years as archbishop of the Diocese of Baltimore, William Donald Borders administered not only to the spiritual needs of its half-million Roman Catholics, he addressed their practical needs, too, from education to shelter to civil rights to health care. Borders took as his motto, “I will listen that I may serve,” and backed it up with his signature salutation, invariably asking everyone he encountered, “How are you feeling?”
Born in Indiana, Borders was ordained in 1940, serving first in a parish in Louisiana. He volunteered as a chaplain with the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II, performing his duties under fire—literally. He was named archbishop in Baltimore in 1974. During his tenure, he transformed the administration of the diocese in accordance with the dictates of the Second Vatican Council, while also recommending women for key Church posts.
“By any measure, William Donald Borders served an extraordinary life,” the diocese’s current archbishop, Edwin O’Brien, announced upon Borders’s death this past April. “He was forced to tackle a number of pressing issues, including the desegregation of public schools, housing for the poor, and the role of the laity in the Church. Ever the teacher, the archbishop would guide the faithful on these and other issues with his prolific writings, many of which remain relevant today.”
Raymond Haysbert Sr., 90
As a successful businessman, as an influential political adviser, and as a conscienscious civic leader, Raymond Haysbert Sr. cut a swath both wide and deep in Baltimore for nearly 60 years. Haysbert’s entrepreneurial know-how helped make Parks Sausage one of the nation’s highest-grossing black-owned firms. His political savvy put his boss, Henry Parks, on the City Council in 1963, and sent Harry Cole to the General Assembly as Maryland’s first black state senator. And his community activism led him to found the Presidents’ RoundTable—a Baltimore-based national organization composed of African-American CEOs—and rescue from financial hardship the local branch of the Urban League, which he chaired at the time of his death.
Born in Cincinnati, Haysbert served with the Army’s all-black Tuskegee Airmen in World War II, then joined the fledgling Parks company in 1952 as office manager. He purchased the company and took over as CEO in 1980.
In his life, Haysbert relentlessly preached the virtues of black-owned businesses. “He mentored hundreds and hundreds of people,” his son Reginald told The New York Times this past May. “When he was in his 70s and 80s, he created entrepreneurial development programs, taking all of the things he had learned over the years, to help people.”
Mack Lewis, 92
For more than 50 years, from his modest, climate-uncontrolled East Baltimore gym, Mack Lewis trained thousands of boxers, a diverse mix of amateurs and professionals, several of them celebrated, including one world champion. Just as important, Lewis’s care, devotion, and innate humanity spurred many of those young fighters to become responsible men, regardless of how well they performed in the ring. His life lessons intertwined inseparably from his boxing lessons.
Born outside Richmond, VA, Lewis moved as a boy to Baltimore, where he worked by day as an IRS clerk for three decades while spending evenings tutoring boxers. His pupil Larry Middleton fought against leading heavyweights in the 1960s, and he oversaw the careers of contenders such as Alvin Anderson (junior middleweight) and Vernon Mason (welterweight). Ultimately, Lewis mentored a champion when Baltimore’s Vincent Pettway won the junior middleweight title in 1994.
Lewis involved himself in all aspects of his charges’ lives, as concerned about their education and family situation as their win-loss record. “Mr. Mack wasn’t necessarily a father figure,” William Tank Hill, a former Lewis protégé, told The Sun upon the trainer’s death in November. “He was more like a godfather. He really could make a kid into a man in a year’s time. All you really had to do was listen.”
Lucille Clifton, 73
When the anthology Contemporary Poets asked Lucille Clifton to describe her work, she responded with characteristic economy and directness, writing just these few words: “I am a Black woman poet, and I sound like one.”
In 11 published volumes of poetry, Clifton deftly explored the personal and the political with insight, humor, expressiveness, and a singular style, ranging over subjects as varied as family, womanhood, slavery, illness, and sexual abuse. She won a National Book Award in 2000 for Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000; was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 1988 for Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir, 1969-1980; and was honored with the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize in 2007. She also published 20 children’s books of prose and verse.
Born in upstate New York, Clifton served as Maryland poet laureate from 1979 to 1985. She taught at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and was writer in residence at Coppin State University.
“Lucille Clifton was wise, warm, witty, and wry, especially about herself,” notes Elizabeth Spires, English and creative writing professor at Goucher College. “Her spare, pared-down lines, unpunctuated and uncapitalized, packed a punch. She could be dead serious and dead on, and still make the reader smile. Unpretentious, she inhabited her poems as a lowercase ‘I,’ writing in The Thirty-Eighth Year: ‘i had not expected to be/an ordinary woman.’ She wasn’t.”
David Franks, 61
Writer, artist, provocateur, and prankster gleefully operated outside the creative mainstream, composing and conducting music for a fleet of tugboats, photo-copying his entire body at Social Security headquarters, and posing as a wheelchair-bound poet who walked off stage after a reading.
Thomas C. Gillmer, 98
Celebrated Naval Academy architect and marine historian designed the original Pride of Baltimore clipper ship, as well as its successor, Pride II, and the Lady Maryland schooner.
John K. Gutierrez, 45
Innovative metals artist collaborated with architects to design elements for the Woodberry Kitchen, Tapas Teatro, and Red Star restaurants and participated in the creation of Mt. Vernon’s Pope John Paul II Prayer Garden.
Patricia D. Hughes, 79
As Maryland’s first lady during her husband Harry’s two terms as governor, she championed the arts, culture, education, and women’s rights, while leading a historic restoration of the Government House.
Albert C. Isella Sr., 94
Gregarious maitre d’ at Little Italy’s Sabatino’s concocted the restaurant’s signature Famous Bookmaker Salad, comprising lettuce, shrimp, provolone cheese, Genoa salami, and a hardboiled egg, all doused with house dressing.
Frederick Jelinek, 77
Johns Hopkins University electrical and computer engineering professor devised ingenious ways for computers and humans to communicate, resulting in now-ubiquitous computerized speech recognition technology.
A. Robert Kaufman, 78
Possessed of a persistent contentiousness that frequently segued into disruptive obnoxiousness, A. Robert “Bob” Kaufman advocated ardently for myriad socialist and progressive causes, from civil rights in the 1940s to drug-law reform in the 2000s. A Baltimore native, he demonstrated on city street corners, willingly invited arrest in an effort to publicize an issue, and peppered local newspapers with treatises masquerading as letters to the editor. Kaufman was the truest of the true believers.
While incessantly agitating for change outside the system, Kaufman also sought to fight the power as an insider, running for nearly every major public office in the land: U.S. President, U.S. Senator, Maryland governor, Baltimore mayor, Baltimore City Council president. He never came remotely close to victory, but he asserted that his mere partcipation in an election campaign helped to advance his causes.
“He was Baltimore’s activist,” Max Obuszewski, his longtime cohort in social-justice advocacy, told The Sun when Kaufman died in December 2009. “He was always there. This was his life trying to be about positive social change.”
John L. Kellermann III, 56
Parkinson’s disease activist led organization that lobbied successfully for General Assembly passage of 2006 Maryland Stem Cell Research Act, then served as founding member of resultant research commission.
Ernest C. Kiehne, 92
Discerning Legg Mason financial advisor for 40-plus years helped found the investment house’s estimable Value Trust mutual fund and led the firm’s research division, dispensing annual stock picks.
Albin O. Kuhn, 94
Respected administrator at the University of Maryland, College Park, and UM Baltimore moved on to spearhead the planning, development, and opening of UMBC, serving as the school’s first chancellor.
Charles “Chick” Lang, 83
Pimlico Race Course general manager catapulted the Preakness from a significant horse race into a significant event by transforming the track’s infield into the city’s biggest annual revel.
Sewall “Susie” Mann, 79
After successfully recovering from heart bypass surgery, “Daredevil Granny” was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer, spending her final six months fulfilling a “bucket list” of sky-diving, hang-gliding, hot-air ballooning, swimming with dolphins, dog-sledding, and other adventures.
Andrea L. Mastellone, 85
Foodies flocked to Italian-born deli and wine shop owner’s Parkville store for its extensive stock of gourmet cheeses, meats, pastries, pastas, seafood, and prepared sundries. Famed for its homemade mozzarella.
Leroy M. Merritt, 79
Intrepid commercial real estate developer hit the mother lode building industrial warehouses, before establishing a popular athletic club business, all the while giving millions to nonprofits and educational groups.
Danuta Mostwin, 88
Polish resistance fighter in World War II balanced careers as professor of social work/mental health and fiction writer; twice nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature, she compellingly documented Poles’ experiences in the U.S.
John H. Murphy III, 94
Publisher oversaw operations of his family’s multi-city newspaper company, which includes Baltimore’s Afro-American, delivering news, sports, and features vital to black readers.
John Pente, 100
Life-long Little Italy resident allowed his third-floor bedroom to serve as a projection room, launching the neighborhood’s popular annual open-air film festival, a summer tradition since 1999.
Tim Potee, 52
Overflowing with exotic, quixotic, and endearingly kitsch items, his Dreamland Vintage Clothing shop catered to the city’s fashionistas, while also outfitting several John Waters films.
John Prevas, 63
Chief judge for the city’s Circuit Court was renowned for his formidable legal knowledge, evincing patience, humor, and intelligence from the bench while handing down firm but just sentences.
Madeline “Mae” Pullen, 90
No-nonsense Harlem Park-Lafayette Square activist strived tirelessly to improve security, health, education, and senior housing in her community.
Robin Roberts, 83
Hall of Fame pitcher with the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1950s successfully capped his career by mentoring a crop of promising young Orioles hurlers for three-plus seasons in the 1960s.
Rabbi Murray Saltzman, 80
Rabbi guided unparalleled growth of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, while also advocating vigorously for all races, religions, and genders, both locally and as a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Arnall Patz, 89
When Dr. Arnall Patz discovered that high doses of oxygen used to treat premature babies often resulted in blindness, he stunned the early-1950s medical world. Forced to fund his own clinical trials, Patz ultimately proved his theory. Once doctors adopted Patz’s regimen, the rate of blindness in American children plunged 60 percent.
In the late 1960s, the trailblazing ophthalmologist and researcher spearheaded development of argon lasers that eventually helped adults with blindness-causing conditions such as macular degeneration. After practicing privately in the city and teaching, Patz joined the faculty of Hopkins’ prestigious Wilmer Eye Institute in 1970, becoming its director in 1979.
His remarkable breakthroughs earned him the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award in 1956, presented by Helen Keller, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004, presented by President George W. Bush.
When Patz died this past March, current Wilmer director Dr. Peter J. McDonnell noted, “Dr. Patz will always be [remembered as] a man who contributed so critically to preserving sight.”
Mike Cuellar, 72
More than a few Orioles fans howled in distress in 1968 when the team traded popular outfielder Curt Blefary to the Houston Astros for Cuban-born left-handed pitcher Mike Cuellar, holder of a tepid 42-41 win-loss record.
That initial distress morphed into glee when in 1969 Cuellar won 23 games, helped the Orioles seize the pennant, and was named co-winner of that season’s Cy Young Award as top American League pitcher. The following year he led all A.L. pitchers with 24 victories. In 1971, he compiled 20 wins; in 1974, 22. Flummoxed hitters whiffed at his slow, slower, and slowest pitches.
“He was like an artist,” Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer, Cuellar’s Orioles teammate, told The New York Times when Cuellar died this past April. “He could paint a different picture every time he went out there. He could finesse you. He could curveball you to death or screwball you to death. From 1969 to ’74, he was probably the best left-hander in the American League.”
A four-time A.L. All-Star, Cuellar racked up a formidable 143-88 win-loss mark over eight seasons with the Orioles, and was an integral component in the team’s three-year reign—1969 to 1971—as A.L. champions, with his career apogee coming when he throttled the Cincinnati Reds to clinch the 1970 World Series at Memorial Stadium.
Morton Sarubin, 85
Developer dubbed “the landlord with a golden touch” by this magazine; he revitalized deteriorating structures to create the Peabody Court Hotel and Beethoven North Apartments, among other notable projects.
Ann Didusch Schuler, 92
Prominent portrait artist founded well-regarded city art school with her sculptor husband Hans, emphasizing the old-school disciplines of drawing, perspective, and anatomy to counter the advent of abstractionism.
Ida Mae Selenkow, 78
Tiny, flamboyant 1950s professional wrestling star—watch that dropkick!—quit the ring to become a registered nurse, and, upon retirement, performed as a singer and yodeler, scoring an appearance on The Rosie O’Donnell Show.
Carl E. Taylor, 93
Johns Hopkins University professor established international public health as a field of study in the U.S., before overseeing 1978 agreement—signed by 134 nations—that made primary public health care an innate right.
June B. Thorne, 82
Congenial Arena Players actress pioneered local broadcasting when, in 1968, she became the first African-American woman awarded her own program, The Woman’s Journal, a community affairs/talk show.
Allan Tibbels, 55
Inspirational leader of Habitat for Humanity in Sandtown-Winchester, fleeing suburbia to live in the westside neighborhood, where he shepherded the construction/renovation of 300 homes, despite his quadriplegic condition.
Edward G. Uhl, 92
World War II soldier co-invented the bazooka, a pivotal weapon in destroying German tanks; later, he grew Fairchild Industries into an aerospace giant as the firm’s president and CEO.
Ernestine “Ernie” Uncles, 69
Social services liaison for the mayor’s office for the past 40 years cut through municipal bureaucracy to assist city residents in urgent need of housing, food stamps, and other essentials.
Jack Wells, 86
Broadcasting pioneer hosted a live, freewheeling, middle-of-the-night radio talk show from a Block nightclub, and then moved into TV as emcee Mr. Fortune on Dialing for Dollars and host of the city’s first early-morning chat program, The Jack Wells Show.
M. Gordon “Reds” Wolman, 85
Famed river scientist chaired Johns Hopkins University’s department of geography and environmental engineering, relentlessly championing the preservation of the Chesapeake and all Maryland water resources.