Edward C. Wilson Jr., 90, magistrate, conservationist in Harford County

December 26, 1997|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

Edward Charles Wilson Jr., a Harford County trial magistrate for more than 25 years and a conservationist, died of congestive heart failure Tuesday at Lorien Nursing and Rehabilitation Home in Riverside. He was 90.

Born in Darlington, Mr. Wilson graduated from Bel Air High School in 1924 and worked full time while taking evening classes at University of Maryland Law School. After graduation in 1928, he opened a law office in Bel Air.

"I asked him if he was nervous doing that" straight out of school, said his daughter Carolyn W. Keenan of Baltimore. "He just said, 'No, I just sat there with my magazines all day and nobody came in.' "

In 1937, he married Ann S. Halliday of Baltimore, whom he had met at a social club.

From the 1940s to 1967, Mr. Wilson was a Harford County trial magistrate known for his "smooth and gentle" demeanor, Ms. Keenan said. At the time, trial magistrates handled misdemeanor criminal cases, similar to today's District Court judges.

"People liked him because he was kind," she said. "He wasn't harsh. He never nailed people."

In the 1950s, Mr. Wilson joined the board of directors of First National Bank of Bel Air, serving until it became First National Bank of Maryland. He remained on the bank's Board of Advisers.

In 1967, Gov. Spiro T. Agnew did not reappoint Mr. Wilson to his post as trial magistrate. Mr. Wilson returned to practicing law, and his clients included the Harford County School Board and First National Bank of Maryland.

Ann Wilson died in 1971. In 1975, Mr. Wilson married Margaret Rose Scarff, a deputy clerk in the Harford County Circuit Court.

Mr. Wilson retired from his law practice in 1989 and devoted time to his 58-acre Darlington farm, cultivating his hobby -- pine trees.

"He was interested in pine trees and conservation," said his son, Edward C. Wilson III of Darlington.

Ms. Keenan said her father often walked around his farm to "tell his trees to grow better."

"He also loved to ride around his old John Deere tractor that went 'putt-putt-putt' and just made a lot of noise," she said.

She said her father's hobbies also included swimming in a nearby creek. She said he only gave it up about six years ago when his health worsened.

Mr. Wilson was well-liked for his strong commitment to the county, said Lucille Close, wife of retired Harford County Circuit Judge Albert P. Close.

"He was highly regarded just a good person," Mrs. Close said. "He was also a very handsome man. He looked much younger than his years."

In addition to his wife, son and daughter, Mr. Wilson's survivors include a second daughter, Ann D. Wilson of West Palm Beach, Fla.; stepdaughters Elizabeth N. Hershman of Bel Air, Margaret L. Smith of Parkville and Barbara B. DeVecchio of Forest Hill; seven grandchildren; two stepgrandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

A private service will be held tomorrow afternoon in Darlington Cemetery. A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Jan. 9 -- Mr. Wilson's birthday -- at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Bel Air. Donations may be sent to the church, 303 N. Main St., Bel Air 21014.

Pub Date: 12/26/97

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