Thousands come to bid loving, historic farewell Goldstein: As more than 2,500 mourners lined up at the State House to pay respects, stories and memories of the comptroller flowed.

July 07, 1998|By Dan Fesperman | Dan Fesperman,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers William F. Zorzi Jr. and Greg Garland contributed to this article.

For 60 years he shook their hands, kissed their babies and kissed their babies' babies, blessing them one and all. And when they would come to Annapolis to ask for a moment of Louis L. Goldstein's time, he'd lead them over to the State House for a personal tour of history's nooks and crannies, always lingering for a moment at his favorite spot, the old Senate Chamber.

Yesterday morning, state troopers carried Goldstein back to the State House for a final time, placing his casket beneath the dome, just a few feet from his favorite spot. In doing so they made him part of the history he always loved to talk about. It was, according to state archivist Edward C. Papenfuse, an unprecedented honor in Maryland.

The troopers then set the velvet ropes in place, threw open the doors and watched as all those people from Goldstein's past came back to file by his flag-draped casket, paying their respects to the man who was state comptroller for almost 40 years and, before that, a state legislator first elected in 1938.

Mourners arrived steadily throughout the day, more than 2,500 by day's end -- folks who'd chatted him up at bull roasts, stood by him in duck blinds or campaigned with him from the mountains to the sea, usually gasping at his heels. Practically all of them seemed to have a story to tell.

Marvin Bond, Goldstein's spokesman for 27 years, first worked for Goldstein as a summer employee 32 years ago, when Bond was 16. Although he'll always remember his boss's financial skills, Bond most fondly recalled all those times people came asking for a few minutes of the comptroller's time and memory. In recent years, he said, long-ago visitors had begun returning for encore performances.

"I can't tell you how many times old or middle-aged people would come to the office without an appointment," Bond said, "and they'd be with a child or a grandchild, and they'd say, 'You know, 25 or 35 years ago you gave me a tour of the State House, and that meant so much to me.' And Louie would take them and their children down and give them a tour just like they were the president of the United States."

Bond said Goldstein was always partial to the old Senate chamber because that's where the state's history overlapped with the nation's. It was in that room in 1783 that George Washington resigned his commission as commander in chief of the Continental Army, and Goldstein made sure that a mannequin of Washington was installed to mark the spot.

Goldstein's casket arrived about 10: 20 a.m., when a state police motorcade escorted a white hearse to the foot of the marble steps leading up from State Circle. An honor guard of eight troopers carried the casket, covered with an American flag, up the steps and down the marbled main corridor of the State House to the spot beneath the high, cream-colored dome.

Family and dignitaries

About 15 members of Goldstein's family gathered before the casket, hugging and consoling each other in hushed tones. Following them a few minutes later was a procession of state dignitaries, led by Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., and U.S. Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes.

The political figures paused to mingle with the family. By then a line of several hundred people was snaking out the door and onto the street, and soon the stories and memories began to flow, whispered and chatted up and down the line.

Wallace W. Tyler, who at 85 is two months younger than Goldstein, overcame the heat and his family's concerns to make it to the State House, lugging a portable oxygen tank because of his emphysema.

"My wife and daughter gave me hell for coming down here, but I came anyway," said Tyler, who met Goldstein more than 70 years ago while delivering fruit and produce to Goldstein's father's store in Prince Frederick in Calvert County. He and Louie were 12.

"They were all straight shooters, all of them," Tyler recalled.

Mary Prophet, 81, made it with the help of a cane, resting in a chair while the dignitaries passed by. She worked for Goldstein in the tax auditing section for 25 years and always found him to be a charming, considerate fellow. He even attended her 50th wedding anniversary celebration.

"He was so good to me," Prophet said. "I couldn't miss coming to Mr. Goldstein's farewell."

But the memories went beyond the backslapping and glad-handing. William S. Ratchford II, former head of the legislature's fiscal services department, remembers Goldstein's prescience in advising the state to begin withdrawing its retirement fund money from the stock market in fall 1987, when stocks seemed overvalued to the comptroller.

"They moved it out slowly in August and September," Ratchford said, "and, of course, in October the market crashed."

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