Harold Slanker Sr., lumber executive

October 25, 1994|By Patrick Hickerson | Patrick Hickerson,Contributing Writer

Harold Edward Slanker Sr., retired lumber company vice president and founder of Washington and Lee University's first marching band, died Friday of respiratory failure at Meridian Nursing Center in Severna Park. He was 88.

The Bodkin Creek resident was vice president of J. F. Johnson Lumber Co. in Annapolis from the early 1950s until 1968 when he retired. He had joined the firm, owned by his father-in-law, in 1931.

During the 1950s and 1960s, he was president of the North Severnside Realty Co. He had also owned and operated the Atlas Block Co. in Westport in South Baltimore, which made concrete blocks, and was part-owner of Captain Hank's Boathouse restaurant in Bethany Beach, Del.

Mr. Slanker's lifelong avocation was playing music.

He was born and reared in Washington -- his father was private secretary to Cabinet secretaries under seven presidents, beginning with William McKinley.

As a youth, he studied the cornet and won a two-year music scholarship to Culver (Ind.) Military Academy, graduating in 1926.

He twice won the academy's Fitton Award for music scholarship and also won athletic awards.

"He was a classically trained trumpet player and could read music very well," said his son, Harold E. Slanker Jr. of Bodkin Creek. "He could take a piece of music he had never seen and play it perfectly."

Mr. Slanker Sr. attended what is now Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., on a full music scholarship.

With $80 from the college, he founded and directed its first xTC marching band and designed the band's emblem.

In 1929, he left college to play trumpet in several orchestras, including Paul Whiteman's.

"He was a good musician. He could've easily made a good living in music," the son said. "He went [on the road] during the Depression. He made $200 a week. This was big money back then."

In 1931, Mr. Slanker was involved in a car accident that forced him to give up the trumpet for a time, and his father-in-law offered him a job in the lumber company at $18.20 a week.

"$18.20 a week. I'm told that bought a lot. It didn't buy what $200 bought back then," the son said.

Later, Mr. Slanker played trumpet for a number of groups, including the Boumi Temple Band and the Bars and Tonics, an Annapolis band.

He was past president and a 50-year member of the Rotary Club of Glen Burnie.

He also had been a member of the Lake Shore Club, the Glen Burnie Masonic Lodge No. 213 A.F.&A.M., the Boumi Temple and the Boumi Yacht Club and a life member of the Annapolis Yacht Club.

His wife of 48 years, the former Evva Virginia Johnson of Glen Burnie, died in 1978.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Magothy United Methodist Church, 3703 Mountain Road, Pasadena.

Other survivors include a daughter, Marilyn S. Palo of Bodkin Creek; four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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