Early in his career, the "mayor" of Pasadena narrowly escaped elective office.
"I was asked one time to run for the House of Delegates," explained businessman William C. Stallings, 76. "But my family allsaid 'If you do that, we're going in the other direction,' so I gavethat up."
Instead, he concentrated on taking care of his own businesses, which have included a gas station, a hardware store, real estate investments, and a thriving insurance office -- not to mention various community charities.
Eventually, the regard of family and friends won him his present "office."
"I'm not really the mayor," Stallings said with a smile. "That's just what people call me. It's just a joke. We don't have a mayor, because Pasadena is not a town."
Linda Grunder, his secretary for the last 10 years, said she wasn't certain howStallings came by his unofficial title.
"It's just what people who know him call him," she explained. "(He's) one of the originals in the area. A man of good sense, with a feel for the people in the area.
"He's just someone you look up to, and an absolute delight to work for, a wonderful individual."
Born in Lake Shore in 1915, Stallings is the patriarch of a clan that might be big enough to vote him into office, if Pasadena ever becomes an incorporated town.
"Yeah,we have quite a few, Stallings, Ellisons, some of the Chairs. I think some of those politicians depend on us for a few of their votes, though."
Stallings, who will retire soon after more than 35 years with the Nationwide Insurance Co., has been a big part of the life of Pasadena since the end of World War II.
During the war, he lived and worked in Baltimore "with the Glenn L. Martin Co., building B-26s at the plant down on Middle River. I was in the inspection department,and we had all these things to check on. But it was an assembly line, everybody had a certain job to do, and five of those planes went out every day."
After the war, he went into partnership with a cousin, starting a service station in 1947. From that they started a hardware business. Also, "we bought a few pieces of property, here and there, and rented them out."
Since then, Stallings has been active inreal estate as an associate broker. He is a former president of the local Underwriters Association of Anne Arundel County. He has been active in community affairs, as a charter member of the Lake Shore Rotary Club.
Stallings has watched the steady transformation of his community from rural farm land that than began in the 1950s to the urbanized collection of communities it has become in the 1990s.
"In those times, you could practically come from Glen Burnie on down to Gibson Island and find farms on both sides of the road. You wouldn't seebut one car in an hour, and (the people in) that car you knew, or you soon learned to know them.
"People lived a lot different then the way they do now," Stallings said. "But we've gotten along with almost everybody we've dealt with. I like dealing with people."
While predicting continued growth, Stallings remains positive about Pasadena's expansion.
"I think it's been pretty good, because you have these zoning laws that mean you have to do certain things in the right manner.
"And in the other days you could pretty much do whatever you wanted, so I think this makes for a nicer neighborhood, where you have everything lined up properly."
But the biggest thing Stallings has lined up for the New Year is his retirement, starting Jan. 1.
"And then, I really don't know. Maybe my wife and I will take a trip together. We want to be together and help each other. That's kind of what I'll do, and maybe -- just a little work on the side.
"I'm going to retire and not even think about doing anything much until March."