Lynn D. Tanner Jr., Harford court master

March 28, 1994|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

Lynn D. Tanner Jr., a Harford County Circuit Court master who died Thursday of emphysema, is remembered for his quick wit and the thoughtful justice he dispensed to the youths appearing in his courtroom. He was 75.

As a court master, the Aberdeen resident oversaw juvenile criminal cases for 22 years. He died at Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace.

Mr. Tanner's wife of 39 years, the former Patricia Ward, is a member of the state Emergency System Numbers Commission, which oversees 911 operations.

A self-described "country lawyer" whose political aspirations for a statewide office never were realized, Mr. Tanner said in a 1980 interview that rehabilitation -- not incarceration -- was his goal for juvenile defendants.

"He brought to that job a real nice combination of toughness and compassion," Harford County Circuit Judge William Carr said. "He never gave up hope for each child in front of him."

Born in Suffolk, Va., Mr. Tanner served in the Navy for 2 1/2 years during World War II. He attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., and the University of Baltimore, where he received his law degree in 1953. He later attended the National College of Juvenile Justice at the University of Nevada.

Mr. Tanner worked his way through law school by operating a beer distributorship in Aberdeen, which he sold after passing the Maryland bar exam. He also operated Lyn-Del Realty in Aberdeen.

He was former president of the Harford County Bar Association, former solicitor for the Harford Liquor Board and former member of the Harford Library Board. He also had been an Aberdeen Town Commissioner.

Mr. Tanner ran as a Democrat for the Maryland House of Delegates in 1958, 1962 and 1966, losing in all three elections. His wife explained that he loved law, but hated politics.

"He hated campaigning and that's why he lost," Mrs. Tanner said. "He would not go out and beat the bushes."

During the 1966 campaign -- which he lost by 26 votes -- Mr. Tanner proposed that the state eliminate a tax refund for users of marine fuel and use the proceeds to fund cleanup for Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Mr. Tanner was a member of the New York Times Crossword Puzzle Club, regularly fielding calls from friends asking for help on finding a particular word.

He was an avid reader, often reading three books at a time -- usually something involving legal issues, something from Shakespeare and then something "light," his wife said.

Mr. Tanner also enjoyed playing the organ and singing, mostly for his own enjoyment but also for occasional weddings and minstrel shows.

He was a member of the Vestryman's Association, American Legion, Lions Club, Sons of the American Revolution and the Highland Society. He also was a supervisor of Boy Scout packs for many years.

Besides his wife, Mr. Tanner is survived by a sister, Hazlet Walker Maxey of Suffolk, Va.; a nephew; and two godchildren.

Private services were held Friday.

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