Edmond Francis Rovner, who served as Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel's chief of staff, and as secretary of the state Department of Economic and Community Development, died Sunday at Sibley Memorial Hospital after suffering cardiac arrest at his home in Bethesda. He was 62.
A memorial service for Mr. Rovner is to be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Danzansky-Goldberg Memorial Chapel, 1170 Rockville Pike, in Rockville.
A burly, gregarious, cigar-smoking man, Ed Rovner served as Gov. Mandel's closest aide from 1969 to 1970. He was both the governor's top administrative adviser, and his chief lobbyist.
Politically astute, widely liked and respected, he frequently stood in for Mr. Mandel, handling issues from campus disturbances at College Park to governors' conferences. He was also the chief architect of Mr. Mandel's reorganization of state government.
As secretary of Economic and Community Development from 1970 to 1973, he headed the state's initiatives on tourism, industrial and residential development. He also championed an early drive to build a new stadium in the downtown Camden Station area.
When Mr. Rovner left state government in 1973, Gov. Mandel praised him as "one of the most brilliant and imaginative public servants I've ever had the pleasure of working with."
Mr. Rovner once described himself to an interviewer as "an old-fashioned white liberal," believing that "government has a responsibility to those who, for reasonable cause, can't make it ... on their own."
His wife, Naomi (Stern) "Sandy" Rovner, a former Baltimore Sun assistant city editor and now a staff writer for the Washington Post, said he inherited those ideas from his mother, the late Clara (Rosen) Rovner.
Clara Rovner was a Jewish immigrant from Poland who later became a member of the national executive board of the liberal Americans for Democratic Action. Ed Rovner would later serve as its chairman.
Born and reared in the Bronx, Mr. Rovner worked his way through Columbia College and Law School. His application to the state bar listed 52 jobs, from peanut packer to semi-professional football player.
He went to Washington in 1952 to work for the Wage Stabilization Board, and later became an appellate lawyer for the National Labor Relations Board.
Sandy Rovner said she and Mr. Rovner were married in 1953 after meeting at a civil rights sit-in at a drug store on DuPont Circle.
Mr. Rovner later became a civil rights counsel with the International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers.
He joined Mr. Mandel's staff in 1969, after four years on the staff of then-Rep. Jonathan Bingham, D-N.Y., and left it in 1973 to head an energy project of the National Governor's Conference in Washington. He later moved on to the Interior Department, and then to a House subcommittee on consumer protection.
When the subcommittee was disbanded in 1980, he took posts as a key aide to Montgomery County executives Charles W. Gilchrist and Sidney Kramer. After Mr. Kramer's defeat in 1990, he began teaching and doing consulting work.
Mr. Gilchrist, now an episcopal priest serving a ghetto parish in Chicago, is expected to assist in tomorrow's memorial service.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Rovner is survived by two children, Julia Rovner, of Washington, and Mark Rovner, of Takoma Park; a brother, Dr. Irwin Rovner, of Montgomery County, and one grandson.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to a fund being established in Mr. Rovner's name by the Jewish Social Service Agency, 6123 Montrose Road, Rockville, Md. 20852-4880.