Wilson 'Buck' Auld Jr., 84, News-Post crime reporter

March 24, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Wilson "Buck" Auld Jr., who as a determined reporter grabbed the nation's attention when he broke the Pumpkin Papers story and the lurid details of the Dorothy Grammer murder case, died March 17 of cancer at Good Samaritan Hospital. The Hillendale resident was 84.

Mr. Auld, who began his newspaper career in 1929 as a copy boy for the old , was promoted in the late 1930s to police reporter and happily took to the streets of Baltimore.

Respected in the news business for his vast knowledge of the city, Mr. Auld possessed all the credentials that would serve him well in his career as a reporter and later as assistant city editor before he retired in 1978.

He always credited Andy Banks, an old-style Hearst editor, with putting him onto the Whittaker Chambers-Alger Hiss case and later the Grammer case.

He and Chambers were friends and on the evening of Dec. 2, 1948, Chambers called Auld.

"He told me to be at his farm at 6 a.m. the next morning and to bring a photographer along. He said he had something to show me that would convince me he was telling the truth about Hiss," Mr. Auld told in 1987.

"I got there a little before 6. The lights were all on. Chambers met me and said, 'You're too late.' I said, 'What do you mean? You told me to be here at 6.' He said, 'The story I was going to give you, the FBI ruined it, last night. They got here.'"

Inside a pumpkin were copies of State Department documents that Chambers claimed he had received from Hiss.

Chambers had taken the pumpkin from the now famous patch and placed it on his back porch. He refused a request to be photographed with it, so Mr. Auld carried it back to the field where photographers took a picture of him looking inside.

In 1952, a murder spectacle that had all the overtones of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller occurred when Baltimore County police found the body of Dorothy Grammer under the dashboard of her car on Taylor Avenue. When it was over, her husband, G. Edward Grammer, confessed to killing his wife, but not before Mr. Auld, acting on a tip from a Block mobster through Mr. Banks, went to New York to find the "Lady in Red."

Mr. Auld discovered that the mystery woman, who he was told had a Polish sounding name, worked for the Canadian delegation to the United Nations. Her name was Mathilda Mizibrocky and when he found her he knew he had found the missing link in the murder. She was Grammer's lover.

Said Peter Kumpa, former reporter and foreign correspondent for The Sun who was a police reporter in those days: "He was good. Buck was the best reporter of his time covering crime in Baltimore, and because he knew everyone he always got the story.

His wife of 55 years, the former Mary Alice Bare, said, "Buck never really liked working inside because he wanted reporters to be as ambitious as he was. He really missed the street."

Mr. Auld didn't care for his given name so decided to call himself "Jack."

"I used to call him 'Buck' at newspaper parties, 'Wilson' when we were around his family and 'Jack' at home," said Mrs. Auld with a laugh.

Mr. Auld was born and raised in a rowhouse on South Ellwood Avenue, near Patterson Park, the son of a clerk.

He attended City College and Polytechnic Institute. During World War II, he served with the Navy in Washington as a member of the team that broke the Japanese code. He was discharged in 1945 with the rank of Specialist Q.

For many years he led Jack Auld's Southern Rebels, an orchestra that played on the Old Bay Line boats and at parties around the city with him playing saxophone and clarinet.

He was active at St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church, and for the past decade at the Roman Catholic Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at Cathedral and Mulberry streets, where a memorial Mass will be offered at 12: 30 p.m. today

In addition to his wife, Mr. Auld is survived by two daughters, Jacquelyn Moore of Lutherville and Annette Kassa of Severna Park; and five grandchildren.

Pub Date: 3/24/96

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