Maurer, 73, dies of brain tumor Former Md. legislator was the first woman to be state treasurer

June 18, 1996|By Thomas W. Waldron and Marina Sarris | Thomas W. Waldron and Marina Sarris,SUN STAFF

Lucille Maurer, a suburban Washington legislator who championed state aid for Baltimore and later became Maryland's first woman treasurer, died yesterday at her home in Silver Spring of complications from a benign brain tumor. She was 73.

Mrs. Maurer's health problems forced her to resign as treasurer in January, ending a career in public service that spanned more than 35 years.

Friends and elected officials yesterday recalled a determined and incisive woman who brought a personable, optimistic approach to politics and life.

"To me, she's the model of a public servant," said state Del. Nancy K. Kopp, a Montgomery Democrat and longtime friend and colleague. "She was intelligent, dedicated and willing to go in and fight long, tough battles, battles that might last for years."

"She paved the way for a lot of women in politics early on, and she proved that a woman can produce as much as any man," said Sen. Ida G. Ruben, also a Montgomery County Democrat.

During her 16 years as a legislator, Mrs. Maurer was scarcely known outside political circles. But inside the State House, she was respected for her keen understanding of state finances and her statewide perspective on budget issues.

Mrs. Maurer was widely appreciated around the capital for her work crafting the complicated formula that has been used for two decades to determine the amount of state education aid each county receives -- a formula known as Lee-Maurer, for Mrs. Maurer and former acting Gov. Blair Lee III.

Under the formula, the richer a county was, the less state aid it received, which benefited poorer areas such as Baltimore City.

While her concern for other jurisdictions won her acclaim in Annapolis, it did not always impress the people back home. Her aversion to parochialism helped cost her a Senate seat in 1986.

In 1987, the legislature elected her to the job of treasurer, where she oversaw state investments and the sale of state bonds.

As treasurer, Mrs. Maurer also was the first woman to sit on the Maryland Board of Public Works, the three-member panel that approves all major state contracts.

As a board member, she expressed herself firmly yet quietly, at least compared with her more outspoken and colorful colleagues, former Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein.

"She was a woman of passion, ability and intelligence," said Mr. Goldstein. "She held her own while we had some very unusual discussions back in the governor's private office."

Gov. Parris N. Glendening said, "Through persistence, professionalism and quiet persuasion, she epitomized the art of good government and good politics."

The former Lucille Darvin was born in New York City in 1922 and grew up in Rockland County, north of the city.

She received a degree in economics from the Women's College of the University of North Carolina. After working as an economist with the U.S. Tariff Commission, she received a master's degree from Yale University in 1945.

She moved to Montgomery County in 1950 and became active in community groups, particularly the League of Women Voters. That led to two terms on the county school board from 1960 to 1968.

In 1969, she was appointed to fill a vacancy in the House of Delegates representing a suburban district that took in parts of Wheaton and Silver Spring.

At the time, Mrs. Maurer was one of only a handful of women in the legislature. She won re-election to four four-year terms in the House.

As a legislator, Mrs. Maurer took on issues of concern to many mothers: bills to regulate public swimming pools and camps for children, for instance, and to strengthen laws on child abuse.

Colleagues recalled that she did her homework on the issues, took unwavering positions but remained cordial and diplomatic with her opponents.

"She never made a public display of a confrontation, but she let you know personally how she felt, in a quiet way," Mrs. Ruben said.

The Evening Sun wrote in a 1975 editorial, "Without the rancorous or strident tones too often heard on the subject, she has been a persuasive, constructive leader in the movement for women's rights."

Her career came to a crossroads in a hard-fought campaign for the state Senate in 1986. Her opponent, Idamae Garrott, accused her of caring too little about Montgomery County and worrying too much about the financial needs of Baltimore.

Senator Garrott's message resonated at home. "Montgomery County was feeling the pinch," Senator Ruben said. "Taxes were rising and people felt they were not getting the services they thought they should."

Mrs. Maurer lost, but rebounded quickly when the General Assembly elected her treasurer in early 1987.

A private burial is planned in Rockland County, N.Y. A memorial service will be held later in Maryland.

Mrs. Maurer is survived by her husband of 51 years, Ely Maurer, an assistant legal adviser in the U.S. State Department; three sons, Stephen Maurer of Swarthmore, Pa., Russell Maurer of Pepper Pike, Ohio, and Edward Maurer of Lido Beach, N.Y.; and seven grandchildren.

Pub Date: 6/18/96

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