Donald Mawn, 72, technician, South Baltimore activist

March 19, 1996|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Donald J. Mawn, a South Baltimore activist who "lived and breathed" Brooklyn and Curtis Bay, died Saturday at his home on Cambria Street after a three-year battle with cancer. He was 72.

In 1991, his love for the area led him and others to urge that South Baltimore secede from the city and join Anne Arundel County.

He was quoted in The Sun, criticizing the city for steering chemical factories, waste dumps, landfills and sewage-treatment plants to South Baltimore.


"We're paying the same tax rate as the people in Guilford and Roland Park, and they're getting the dessert and we're getting the garbage," he said, speaking as vice president of Concerned Citizens for a Better Brooklyn.

Also in 1991, speaking as a member of the Brooklyn-Curtis Bay Historical Society, he recalled South Baltimore's beginnings as small villages surrounded by farmland, with sandy beaches along the Patapsco River that drew the rich to build summer homes there.

"But look at it now," he said. "It looks worse than the Kuwaiti war zone."

"He lived and breathed and thought and cared about Brooklyn and Curtis Bay," said Duane E. Tressler, a friend and editor of "A History of Brooklyn Curtis Bay."

"He was an historian, a vice president of the community association and an environmentalist a South Baltimore stalwart," Mr. Tressler said. "The movement to leave and go back to Anne Arundel came from being geographically isolated," Mr. Tressler said, adding that the area had an "S.O.B. complex" south of the (Hanover Street) bridge. "We're the lost forgotten area," he said.

Born in Scranton, Pa., Mr. Mawn completed high school there and moved to Baltimore with his parents to look for work.

He served in the Air Force from 1941 to 1945 as a flight engineer on weather planes, said his wife, the former Pauline Maurin, whom he married in 1954. His service led to a lifelong love affair with airplanes.

"He loved airplanes. If we went anywhere we ended up at an airport," Mrs. Mawn said.

He especially enjoyed air shows that featured World War II aircraft and was a member of the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum in Reading, Pa. He also was a member of American Legion Post 187 and the Maryland Waste Coalition.

After his military service, Mr. Mawn worked briefly in area shipyards, then joined Addressograph, which became Multigraph, and eventually Data Card Corp., from which he retired in 1987 as an electronics technician.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. today at George J. Gonce Funeral Home, 4001 Ritchie Highway, Brooklyn.

Other survivors include a son, William Mawn of Pasadena; a daughter, Teresa Branham of Fullerton; and four grandsons.

Pub Date: 3/19/96

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