William J. Chilcoat, ran almshouse

June 06, 1994|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

William James "Jimmy" Chilcoat of Timonium, who ran the Baltimore County poorhouse for 45 years and was one half of the longest married couple in the Baltimore Archdiocese, died Thursday at St. Joseph Hospital.

He was 98, and had been hospitalized for stomach problems.

Mr. Chilcoat and his wife, the former Leila Genevieve Shoul, celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary May 12. In 1990, they were recognized as the longest married in the archdiocese, and presented with a plaque by Archbishop William H. Keeler.

They were married in St. Joseph's Church in Texas and remained parishioners there.

From 1913 to 1958, Mr. Chilcoat was superintendent of the Baltimore County Home, an almshouse for indigent elderly people.

He and his wife were the only staff for as many as 80 residents at a time, although the "inmates," as they were called then, usually were able to help run the farm and house, said their son, Russell J. Chilcoat of Timonium.

"A lot of them were active, just didn't have nowhere to go," Russell Chilcoat said. "Very few had a family."

His parents lived in an apartment in the house and their four children were born and reared there. The elderly residents were like an extended family, Russell Chilcoat said, and his parents put clean clothes out for them and made sure they took their medicine.

"Just like any family. You did what had to be done," Russell Chilcoat said. "If any of them got sick in the middle of the night, they would bang on the door, and we would call the doctor."

When the home closed in 1958, most of the residents went on to live in nursing homes.

Mr. and Mrs. Chilcoat moved to a house on the property and he continued to work for the county until 1970 as caretaker of the Baltimore County Home building, which became headquarters for the county agricultural department, historical society and civil defense offices.

Mr. Chilcoat, who was born in Sparks, was a member of the Grange, the Farm Bureau and a lifetime member of the Baltimore County Historical Society.

He enjoyed gardening, especially raising flowers, and baby-sitting for his grandchildren, his son said.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Chilcoat is survived by another son, Richard L. Chilcoat, and a daughter, Rita G. Oehrl, both of Timonium; 11 grandchildren; and 23 great-grandchildren. A third son, Joseph E. Chilcoat, was killed 50 years ago while a foot soldier in France, shortly after the Allied invasion at Normandy during World War II.

Services were planned for 10 a.m. today at St. Joseph's Church in Texas. Memorial donations may be made to United Cerebral Palsy, Suite 110, 31 Walker Ave., Baltimore, 21208.

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