Goldstein reputation as fiscal watchdog will stand the test of time

More notable Marylanders

October 27, 1999|By John A. Clinton

Over the past three months, The Sun's editorial page has published its Marylanders of the Century series -- profiles of 21 people who made key contributions to the community and society. We also asked readers to contribute their own Marylanders of note. Here is a selection of the responses we received:

NO LIST of Marylanders of this century would be complete without the man who holds the Maryland record for continuous service in state and local government: Louis L. Goldstein, who was comptroller from 1959 until his death last year at 85. Some 60 years of his life were devoted to public service.

Mr. Goldstein, who frequently received the most votes in statewide elections -- even out-polling governors -- spoke to scores of groups across this state annually for years, helping to make him one of the most popular elected officials in modern times.

Of course, he never left a meeting without passing out the gold-colored coins he always carried to give as souvenirs and delivering his signature line: "God bless y'all real good."

Beyond the homespun wisdom that was his trademark, Goldstein was respected throughout the nation as a tough fiscal watchdog of the state's finances.

But he didn't rest on his laurels. Instead, he continually pushed for improvements, whether it was streamlining tax collecitons or recognizing the year 2000 problem with computers long before many others -- and making sure the state's computers were overhauled well before 2000.

Mr. Goldstein insisted that the state government computerize tax records, though he came from an era in which records were kept on paper.

Such foresight and youthful enthusiasm for the job helped make him a darling of the voters.

Though he was considered something of a character, Goldstein's life was a definition of true personal and professional character.

A native of Calvert County, Goldstein was a graduate of Washington College, a farmer, a lawyer, a Lions Club member, a newspaper publisher, state comptroller, state senator and president of the state Senate, member of the House of Delegates, man of the people, and a shining example of all that is good in Maryland.

He was as recognizable as the alized as a state natural resource.

John A. Clinton was director of personnel and training under Louis L. Goldstein for 17 years, retiring in 1994. He writes from Millersville.

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