Gordon Parrish Hallock, 75, guided state Office of Seafood Marketing

November 11, 1998|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Gordon Parrish Hallock, who as director of the state's Office of Seafood Marketing created the Maryland Seafood Festival and preached nationwide of the bounty of the Chesapeake Bay, died Sunday of cancer at his home in Shady Side, Anne Arundel County. He was 75.

Known as Maryland's "Seafood Ambassador," Mr. Hallock combined a gregarious personality with a seemingly insatiable appreciation of seafood.

He came by his love of the region's bivalves, crustaceans and fish naturally, as a waterman's son born on Parrish Creek, off the West River, in Shady Side.

After graduating from Southern Senior High School in Lothian in 1941, he worked as a salesman for Christian Heurich Brewery in Washington.

He left the brewery in 1954 and worked as a Realtor and a waterman until 1963, when he was appointed coordinator for the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Maryland to promote the then-fledgling Chesapeake Bay soft-shell industry.

In 1967, Gov. J. Millard Tawes named him to the state's first Seafood Market Development Division of the Department of Chesapeake Bay Affairs, later the Department of Economic and Community Development.

"He was probably the No. 1 publicist for Chesapeake Bay products before anyone else was doing it," said Kerry Muse, former deputy director of seafood marketing. "He was known from Point Lookout to Garrett County, and it wasn't unusual to see him with an apron on, cleaning, frying, cooking seafood."

In 1966, Mr. Hallock organized the state's first successful seafood festival at the Annapolis city dock -- to promote clams.

As director of seafood marketing, he decided to include all of the region's seafood in his promotions and began touring the state, setting up seafood festivals for various organizations.

When epicures got wind that he was planning a seafood festival, they would drive hundreds of miles to sample the food. Today, the annual festivals are held in Ocean City, Annapolis, Crisfield, Hagerstown, Mount Airy, Cumberland and Leonardtown.

"He never forgot a name, had enormous powers of persuasion and would go anywhere to talk about Maryland seafood," said Mr. Muse, who lives in Edgewater.

"I can remember him during the 1950s dragging his portable clam fryer all over the state, introducing folks to the joys of fried clams," said Bill Burton, retired Evening Sun outdoors editor. "He was a good cook and used to say, 'Good taste was the ultimate sales pitch.' "

"His personal favorite was soft-shell crabs that were floured and only cooked in bacon grease or Crisco in a black iron pan," said a son, Gordon E. Hallock of Shady Side. "And he liked to have ice tea with them and not beer."

In 1974, Mr. Hallock's agency published "The Maryland Seafood Cookbook," the state's first official seafood cookbook. Mr. Hallock retired in 1985.

He was a member of the Winnebago Club, touring the nation in his motor home, Annapolis Lodge 622 of the B.P.O.E. and Centenary United Methodist Church.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Hardesty Funeral Home, 905 Galesville Road, Galesville.

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, the former Ellen Poole; another son, Richard Hallock; a daughter, Constance Kann, all of Shady Side; five granddaughters; and two great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 11/11/98

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