Sidney Marshall Hayman, 90, finance firm owner, activist

January 11, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Sidney Marshall Hayman, retired owner of a Princess Anne finance company and civic activist, died of prostate cancer Monday at his home in the Eastern Shore town. He was 90.

In 1984, he retired as owner and manager of General Finance Co., a mortgage, insurance and loan business he founded in 1935. The business later was sold to Blazer Finance Services Inc.

Known as "Cap'n Sidney" or "Mr. Sidney," he conducted his business in an old-fashioned manner, often sealing deals with handshakes.

"He lent money to watermen and other local people, often to several generations of the same family," said a daughter, Sidney Daphne Hayman of Salisbury.

"He was a very personable man who liked everybody. He often told them to pay him when they could and sometimes accepted crab meat or oysters for payment of a debt. He could sit down and talk to anyone, the poorest to the richest," she said.

"He treated all of his customers as if they were his own family," said another daughter, Gail Hayman Bounds of Easton.

After selling the business, Mr. Hayman kept his office at Somerset and Prince William streets, showing up daily, dressed in his trademark white shirt and a necktie to read the newspaper and talk with friends.

George B. Fitzgerald, a friend for 70 years, said, "He was known throughout Princess Anne for his friendliness and graciousness. He was certainly well-liked in this town."

Mr. Hayman was a lifelong resident of Princess Anne in Somerset County. His ancestors settled in the county in 1664. In his youth, he worked for several years in his father's Broad Street hardware store, C. H. Hayman & Sons, which was established in the 1890s. Mr. Hayman was a 1922 graduate of Washington High School and attended the College of William and Mary for 3 1/2 years, then worked in the family business and owned and operated a canning company before establishing the finance firm.

In 1993, he recounted for Maryland Public Television's "Maryland in the Great Depression" one of his most painful memories, the 1933 lynching of George Armwood in Princess Anne.

Mr. Armwood was accused of attacking an elderly white farm woman and was hanged and burned after a mob broke into the Somerset County jail. The case shocked the nation and became the focus of a 1934 investigation by the U.S. Senate, which was holding hearings on the nationwide epidemic of lynchings. The federal anti-lynching bill that came out of the hearings never became law.

"He was repulsed by it all. It was just appalling to him. He couldn't stand to see blacks denigrated that way or any way," Ms. Hayman said. "It was something that he was never able to forget."

Each Christmas, Mr. Hayman distributed baskets of food, clothes and toys to poor tenant farmers and migrant workers.

A civic activist and environmentalist, Mr. Hayman led the effort to plant chestnut trees along the streets of Princess Anne and a BTC year ago still was cleaning up debris from the shoreline and water of the Manokin River.

Mr. Hayman also was passionate about aviation. He was taught to fly in 1932 by Fred Ennis, a legendary Eastern Shore barnstormer, and flew his Beechcraft single-engine airplane until was 80.

A World War II veteran, he was a navigator with the Navy Air Transport Service from 1941 until 1945, when he was discharged with the rank of lieutenant commander.

He was a member of the Princess Anne Chamber of Commerce and Manokin Presbyterian Church, where he was in charge of the graveyard committee.

A memorial service was to be held at 11 a.m. today at Manokin Presbyterian Church, 11892 Somerset Ave., Princess Anne.

Other survivors include his wife of 52 years, the former Myrtle Hopkins; and three grandchildren.

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