During Carroll H. Hynson Sr.'s lifetime, Anne Arundel County evolved from a segregated rural outpost into a rapidly urbanizing jurisdiction where many blacks have risen to positions of significance in the community. Mr. Hynson, who died Dec. 19 at age 95, didn't merely witness those changes, he reaped advantage of them.
"You can't be average, you have to be one step above," he exhorted his son, Carroll H. Hynson Jr., now a Maryland State Lottery official. "We as black people have to be extra good and do well."
The elder Mr. Hynson lived a life of enterprise, spotting opportunities that others failed to detect so clearly. Born in Talbot County as the son of an oyster- and crab-packer, he quit school in the ninth grade, but never scorned chances for self-improvement. After moving to Annapolis in 1919, he handled a variety of odd jobs and then landed went to work as a bellman at the old Carvel Hall Hotel. Soon he was a waiter, then an insurance salesman. In the 1930s, he opened his first business -- a wood and coal store -- on Acton Street.
When an opportunity arose for Mr. Hynson to get a postal contract, he began trucking mail daily from Annapolis to a railroad station in Severna Park, where it was placed in cars for transport to Baltimore. He used this income to purchase rental properties that no one wanted at the time but which later became valuable. This dabbling in real estate led to substantial development activity, including the building of Arundel-on-the-Bay and Capitol Hill Manor and providing mortgages to the buyers. "All the street names in Capitol Hill Manor were named after family members," his son remembers.
In 1945, Mr. Hynson became Anne Arundel County's first black bail bondsman, when he posted a $250 bond for a boy accused of stealing a box of blackberries. This led to a formal bail bonds agency, which he operated in conjunction with his real-estate business on West Street until retiring in 1987.
Mr. Hynson's career ought to be an inspiration, not just to African-Americans but to all Anne Arundel residents. His life underscores the belief of successful men and women that the more difficult one's circumstances, the harder one must work. Society may have changed vastly over Carroll Hynson Sr.'s 95 years, but that truism has not.