Charles W. Elliott, 86, Arundel activist known as 'Mayor of Brooklyn Park'

July 08, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Charles W. Elliott, an Anne Arundel County activist for more than 40 years who was affectionately known as the "Mayor of Brooklyn Park," died Sunday of heart failure at his Brooklyn Park home.

A small, wiry man with endless energy and a love for Brooklyn Park, Mr. Elliott, 86, lived for 46 years in a two-story house with white aluminum siding and a manicured garden.

And for nearly his entire tenure as Brooklyn Park "mayor," he roamed its alleys for trash, reported dilapidated houses to the health department, closely watched unknown pedestrians and endeared himself to hundreds of neighbors.

"My goodness, besides his family, Brooklyn Park was his life," said his daughter, Sandra Rose of Severna Park. "He loved it there. Everyone knew him, and everyone liked him. He just loved it there."

Mr. Elliott was president of the Brooklyn Park Improvement Association for about 20 years, retiring last year. During his presidency, he developed scores of sources within county government and could cut through bureaucratic red tape to get services performed quickly.

For instance, Brooklyn Park residents often complained to him when trash mounted in alleys or potholes needed repair. And they called Charlie Elliott when a neighbor missed a social service check or faced a gas and electric turnoff.

"He got more calls than I did to get things done. He knew who to call," state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, a Brooklyn Park resident and Mr. Elliott's friend for 20 years. "The only time he came to us [for help] was when he ran into a brick wall."

Friends and neighbors said Mr. Elliott's main interest was improving his community. He regularly pitched in during community cleanups and occasionally rolled up his sleeves on the weekly trash days.

When he stepped down from the community organization, he still cruised the alleys in an old gray Plymouth, always in search of trash or something amiss.

"He just loved Brooklyn Park that much," his daughter said.

Born and raised in South Baltimore, Mr. Elliott attended city public schools and worked at the old Continental Can Co. in Canton from 1922 to 1964. He was a teller at the former Union Trust bank from 1964 until he retired in 1969.

He renewed his driver's license Thursday and always had a quip when asked something.

"He was just a delightful man and a tireless advocate for his community," said Del. John R. Leopold, of nearby Pasadena, who had known Mr. Elliott for nearly 20 years. "He set an example as an advocate for his community. He'd leave no stone unturned."

Last year, a ball field behind Park Elementary School in Brooklyn Park was dedicated to Mr. Elliott. When told of the plan to name a field after him, Mr. Elliott instead wanted to talk about the need for another crossing guard at the school.

His wish was granted, and the school got another guard.

For many years, Mr. Elliott was a member at Grace United Church of Christ, 1404 S. Charles St., where services are scheduled for 10 a.m. today.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife, the former Hilda Kencel, whom he married in 1939; a sister, Ruth Strzelczyk of Uniontown; and two grandchildren.

Pub Date: 7/08/98

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