Lloyd W. Jones, a soft-spoken but acclaimed administrator credited with saving Maryland taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars after the savings-and-loan crisis of the 1980s, died Sunday at his home after a yearlong bout with cancer. He was 61.
Friends and colleagues said illness was probably the only challenge that Mr. Jones could not ultimately master. For nearly a decade, the Timonium resident was thrown into the hot spots of state government from the S&L debacles to the state agency that oversees property tax assessment and the embattled Maryland lottery.
His success in each, his supporters said, came without fanfare and was based on simple principles: integrity, dedication and the tough, hard-driving style that lurked underneath his mild-mannered exterior.
"He was a smart, hard-working, innovative and thorough professional -- the type of individual the public generally never hears about and whose successes are not well known beyond the halls of government," Gov. Parris N. Glendening said in a written statement. "His loss is a loss for all Marylanders."
Former Gov. William Donald Schaefer remembered Mr. Jones as one of the finest administrators he had ever seen in action. In 1987, Mr. Schaefer plucked Mr. Jones from the city finance department to head the Maryland Deposit Insurance Fund Corp., the agency created to pick up the pieces of the failed state-insured savings and loans.
"He was just brilliant," Mr. Schaefer said. "He never got credit for some really good work."
As MDIF director, Mr. Jones sought top-dollar for the real estate assets left behind by the bankrupt thrifts. His tough negotiating stance is what saved taxpayers from having to spend millions more bailing out depositors.
"He was a pillar of strength in a sticky situation," said House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. "He was an outstanding public servant."
Three years later, Mr. Schaefer appointed Mr. Jones to head the state Department of Assessments & Taxation just as Maryland's property tax revolt was hitting a fever pitch. Mr. Jones campaigned to educate property owners on the state's assessment formula, a move that did much to placate homeowners angered by rising property tax bills.
"This guy was a hero to all state bureaucrats," said Frederick W. Puddester, secretary of the state Department of Budget & Management. "Schaefer always gave him the toughest problems, and he made them go away."
When Mr. Jones took over the lottery in 1993, he tackled concerns about the agency's integrity and faltering sales.
"He wasn't a politician. He didn't play political games. He didn't play favorites. That's why he was so effective," said William W. Saltzman, the lottery agency's deputy director.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Mr. Jones served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. After leaving the service in 1956, he earned a bachelor of science degree in accounting from the University of Baltimore.
He was the former director of Carroll County's administration and finance department before working for Baltimore. He held several positions in the private sector, including at the Arundel Corp., where he initiated and installed the company's first computer system.
Mr. Jones was active in several boards and community organizations, including the Baltimore County library system and the Baltimore International Culinary College. He was an avid golfer.
He is survived by Margaret E. Jones, his wife of 42 years; a daughter, Elise Michele Jones-McDevitt; and a son, Robert Glenn Jones.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Towson United Methodist Church.
Pub Date: 12/17/96