Stephen J. Arata Jr., 82, represented Baltimore County in House of Delegates

March 23, 1998|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Stephen J. Arata Jr., a machinist and former member of the House of Delegates from southwestern Baltimore County, died of cancer Thursday at his Arbutus home. He was 82.

He had been chief inspector of the Baltimore County liquor board and a zoning inspector.

"He was a people person and they loved him," said Dan Minnick, a Baltimore County Democrat who served in the House of Delegates from 1966 to 1982.

Mr. Arata, a conservative Democrat, was remembered as a strong representative of the concerns of constituents in Catonsville, Arbutus, Lansdowne and Baltimore Highlands.

He lobbied the state for a traffic signal and reduced speed limits at an intersection with a high accident rate. He sponsored bills to curb odometer tampering by used-car dealers, compensate residents who were injured in efforts to help police officers, and bar hot dogs from being labeled "all meat" if they contained animal lips, ears, snouts or spleens.

Retired Baltimore County District Judge and former state Sen. John C. Coolahan recalled that Mr. Arata was particularly proud of his successful effort to pass legislation giving senior citizens free or reduced tuition at community colleges.

Mr. Coolahan described Mr. Arata as "a bundle of energy, very active, always on the move."

He and Mr. Arata won House seats in 1966. They ran on the same ticket in 1970, Mr. Coolahan winning a Senate seat and Mr. Arata winning re-election to the House. Mr. Arata lost his re-election campaign four years later.

Born in Baltimore, Mr. Arata attended Mount St. Joseph High School for three years, then took a job to help his family. He became a machinist in the Calvert Distillery Division of Seagram's Co. in Elkridge. He worked there 40 years and retired in 1979.

Mr. Arata began his involvement in politics in the early 1940s. He served on the Baltimore County Democratic State Central Committee and the 13th District Democratic Executive Committee.

He was appointed a trial magistrate's clerk in 1950 and committing magistrate in 1953. He was constable of the People's Court in Baltimore County's western district from 1954 to 1956.

He was named a liquor inspector in 1956 and rose to become chief inspector before taking a leave of absence in 1966 to run for the House of Delegates. He won appointment as a zoning inspector in the early 1980s, serving until 1993.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today at St. Clement Roman Catholic Church, 2700 Washington Ave., Lansdowne.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, the former Fern Potee; two sons, Stephen J. Arata III of Freeland and Vincent J. Arata of Woodlawn; a brother, Louis Arata of Milwaukee; a sister, Beatrice Cummings of Pasadena; and a grandson.

Pub Date: 3/23/98

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