Painful childhood experience turned Herbert Locklear to...

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October 13, 1991|By Mary Corey

Painful childhood experience turned Herbert Locklear to life 0) of social work

Herbert Locklear can still recall the childhood event that prompted him to devote his life to working with the disadvantaged.

At age 5, he watched as his father, a poor tenant farmer in Georgia, was attacked by his landlord, and policemen turned away.

"The picture of that experience stayed with me. I resolved not to be in that kind of situation," says Mr. Locklear, a husband and father of five who lives in Ednor Gardens.

Today, he's in a very different situation indeed. As an assistant director with the Department of Social Services, he helps those on welfare get medical assistance. For the last 30 years, he's kept a journal of his experiences, which he recently turned into a book, "A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the Welfare Department."

"It's not a literary classic," the 59-year-old cautions, "but it shows that people who are deprived of a certain economic status still have a value and an identity."

The book, which retails for $10.95, took two years to write. He spent another six months trying to find a publisher. But struggling to achieve a goal is something he knows well.

An American Indian of the Lumbee tribe, Mr. Locklear is the founder of American Indian Center in Baltimore. He continues to fight for the rights of Native Americans through the South Broadway Baptist Church, where he has helped create youth-oriented programs and family counseling sessions.

"We have enjoyed advances," he says, "but what we still suffer from is the idea that people look at Native Americans as a novelty."

Susan Khalje knows she's done her job when brides cry.

As they stand in her Glen Arm studio -- donning wedding dresses she has designed for them -- they often do shed a joyful tear or two.

"That's the moment when you really feel like you've succeeded," says Ms. Khalje, 40.

Success in the fashion business, however, isn't what she set out to achieve. A former classical pianist, she began sewing to help pay the bills while living in New York. But after working in a couture salon frequented by Ginger Rogers and designing a sportswear line, she found her real niche: creating one-of-a-kind wedding dresses.

Several years and several hundred dresses later, Susan Khalje has made her mark. She recently was named the bridal columnist for Sewing and Fine Needlework, a national publication, and is writing a book about couture techniques.

Creating Susan Khalje bridal couture has also provided plenty of laughs. She recalls a bride who requested a high lace collar to cover her rose tattoo and another who wanted a tight sequin gown with rows of ruffles, which "looked like something a flamenco dancer would wear," says Ms. Khalje, who lives in Glen Arm with her husband and two children.

Her own 12-year-old daughter, Soraya, has already put in her wedding-day request.

"But she changes her mind all the time," Ms. Khalje says. "Now it has a kind of Western motif."

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