Country Club won't reveal voting results

February 02, 1995|By Michael Ollove | Michael Ollove,Sun Staff Writer

The Baltimore Country Club's board of governors last night voted on whether to accept the first black members in the club's 97-year history but refused to disclose what action it had taken.

"I don't think it's appropriate for me to give out any information with regard to somebody's personal affairs," Edward Johnston, president of the 2,900-member club, said late last night after the board adjourned its meeting at the club's Roland Park clubhouse. He acknowledged that the board had reached a decision.

Other members of the 12-member Board of Governor's either would not discuss the meeting or did not return telephone calls.

The board was considering several prospective members, but it was the vote regarding William Jews, chairman of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland, and his wife, Marsha, former director of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre Foundation, that held out the possibility of a historic step for the club.

A woman answering the telephone at the Jewses' home in Timonium last night said, "We're not available for comment."

Mr. Johnston said it would be up to the Jewses to reveal what the board's action was. He said that they would be informed of the decision by mail, although it's more likely they'll learn by word of mouth.

Several club members have acknowledged that some in the club had objected to the Jewses on the basis of race. Others, including Mr. Johnston, said there was a concern that the couple was only being considered because of Mr. Jews' prominence in business and not because the couple was friendly with current club members.

The Jewses had already been approved by the country club's five-person membership committee, but the final decision rested with the Board of Governors.

If stature were a consideration for entry, the Jewses, married since 1992, would likely sail through the nomination process. Prior to taking over at Blue Cross and Blue Shield in 1993, Mr. Jews, 42, was the first president of Liberty Medical Center and later head of Dimensions Health Corp. in Prince George's County. A native of Cambridge and a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, he is the chairman of the Greater Baltimore Committee, a symbol of his acceptance by the city's most influential business executives. His annual salary is more than $600,000.

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