Leon Abramson, council president helped shape Baltimore landscape

April 04, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

Leon Abramson, a lawyer and former City Council president who was instrumental in enacting legislation in the 1950s that shaped much of Baltimore's current landscape, died of heart failure Friday at his home in Hallandale, Fla.

He was 88.

Mr. Abramson, who had lived in Florida since 1968, had a long political career, serving in the House of Delegates, on the City Council, as a traffic court magistrate and as a federal administrator.

He was born in Norfolk, Va., and attended that city's public schools, graduating from Maury High School before moving to Baltimore with his family when he was 17. He earned a degree hTC from the University of Maryland Law School in 1927.

As a member of the City Council and as council president, Mr. Abramson was instrumental in passing several bills that helped shape Baltimore, including bills funding the civic center, creating the Charles Center business district and building the Jones Falls Expressway.

He also was instrumental in Memorial Stadium being built and the Orioles coming to town from St. Louis in 1954.

"He worked really hard to see that the stadium was built and ready for opening day at Memorial Stadium. That was one of his proudest moments of his career, when it opened on time," said son, Fred Abramson of Owings Mills.

Mr. Abramson, a Democrat, was elected to the House of Delegates in 1931 and served for eight years, until he ran for the City Council.

He served on the council from 1939 to 1955, representing the old 4th District, which covered much of Northwest Baltimore.

In 1955, he was elected citywide to the post of council president. He served for four years before he was defeated in 1959.

In 1960, he was appointed by then-Gov. Millard J. Tawes to be an associate magistrate of the old Baltimore Traffic Court, a position he held for two years.

He was then appointed chief legal counsel to the House Ways and Means Committee in Congress, where he served from 1963 to 1968 under then-Chairman Adam Clayton Powell. He was named director of the U.S. Department of Labor's regional Manpower office in Atlanta, where he worked to set up job training programs for American Indians and other minorities.

He retired in 1972.

Services will be at Levinson's Funeral home, 6010 Reisterstown Road, tomorrow at 11 a.m.

His first wife, Etta Sachs Abramson, died in 1959.

He is survived by his second wife, Lilian Broudo Abramson of Hallandale, Fla.; one son, Fred Abramson of Owings Mill; two stepchildren, Mireille Hanna of San Francisco and Alfred Hanna of Bozeman, Mont.; two sisters, Selma Podgur and Helen Karpa, both of Baltimore; and two grandchildren.

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