Democratic leaders today are mourning the death of Luke T. Anthony, a party activist for more than 50 years and the unofficial "mayor of Pasadena."
Anthony, who served on the Anne Arundel chapter of the Democratic State Central Committee from 1978 to 1990, died Monday of heart failure and cancer at Harbor Medical Center in Baltimore. He was 79.
Services for Anthony are scheduled for 11 a.m. today at St. Jane Frances Church in Riviera Beach.
"He was a good man," said Delegate W. Ray Huff, D-Pasadena, who ran on a ticket with Anthony several times. "Basically, he was the mayor of Pasadena. He knew what was going on in Pasadena better than anybody."
Poor health prevented Anthony from running for re-election to the Central Committee last year, but he remained active in politics. During the 1990 election, he was chairman of the 31st Legislative District's "United 31st" ticket, which included incumbent Delegates Charles "Stokes" Kolodziejski, D-Carvel Beach, Huff, newcomer Joan Cadden, D-Brooklyn Park, and incumbent Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park.
"Politics was the No. 1 thing in his life," said his daughter-in-law, Wendy Anthony of Riviera Beach. "Everything was always politics."
Although he never ran for any office higher than the committee, Anthony's political influence in North County was far-reaching, said Jimeno, who knew him for 15 years. Anthony was a member of the committee that recommended Jimeno's Senate appointment after former Sen. Jerome F. Connell was convicted of tax evasion.
"Luke's name was so well known, and people trusted him so much, that if his name appeared on the ballot he was almost a guaranteed winner," Jimeno said. "He was well-respected in the community. People would call Luke at election time to ask who to vote for."
Anthony became involved in politics in the 1940s, said his brother, Joseph Anthony of Pasadena. "He got into it like a lot of people do, by joining those Democratic clubs. He helped people a lot. He believed in helping people."
A lifetime member of the Stoney Creek andLake Shore Democratic clubs, Anthony had a strong sense of North County as a political power unto itself, Jimeno said. "He was one of theremaining people who still believed in the separation of North and South county. He thought the south was trying to gain control of the political system," he said.
Although he was a "great friend" of Democratic higher-ups like former Govs. J. Millard Tawes and Harry Hughes, Anthony devoted most of his energies to helping ordinary citizens in the North County area, Joseph Anthony said.
Jimeno said that people who needed help with "pothole" problems often called Anthony instead of their elected representative.
"He had a strong feeling that government had an obligation to serve the people," Jimeno said. "He'd often hold court in his house on Fort Smallwood Road" for people who needed help.
Former three-term state Delegate William Burkhead recommended Anthony for a job as an auditor in the state comptroller's office during the mid-1960s. "He was independent," Burkhead recalled. "Even though he was a Democrat for many years, he used his own judgment and his own mind. He wasn't the kind of man you could tell to do something."
Born in Baltimore City, Anthony lived in Anne Arundel for 60 years. From the mid-1940s to the early 1960s, he ran a tavern and grocery on Fort Smallwood Road.
He later worked as a road inspector, a racetrack inspector and a state auditor. He also served asjudge of the Orphan's Court.
Anthony was the first president of the Rock Hill Beach Community Association, an position he kept for many years. He was the first Democrat inducted into the Anne Arundel "Hall of Fame," an honor created by the local Central Committee for outstanding Democratic leaders.
Anthony's survivors include two sons, James T. Anthony Sr. of Glen Burnie and John J. Anthony of Pasadena; two sisters, Alma Bozel of Baltimore and Dorothy Hewitt of Pasadena; two brothers, Joseph Anthony and Daniel Anthony of Pasadena; seven grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren.
His wife, Mary E. "Tibby"McDermott, died in 1982.