Bel Air mourns death of town manager

William N. McFaul, 62, dies after bypass surgery

November 10, 1999|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

Bel Air officials are mourning the sudden death of Town Administrator William N. McFaul, a longtime manager who died late Monday night while recovering from bypass surgery at University of Maryland Medical Center. He was 62.

"I can't believe it," Stephen C. Burdette, chairman of the Bel Air Board of Town Commissioners, said of McFaul's death, which took the community by surprise. "I feel sorry for the town because the town has lost a real advocate."

As administrator for the past 20 years, McFaul managed day-to-day operations of the town of more than 8,000 residents under the direction of the elected commissioners.

Harford County Executive James M. Harkins said McFaul was well-loved for his ability to listen to all sides before making decisions and for his talent in building consensus among officials.

"He was just extremely people-oriented," Harkins said.

A Baltimore native, McFaul was remembered as a family man devoted to his wife, Iris, their two daughters and their four grandchildren, even as he worked tirelessly to help the town run smoothly.

"He made being a commissioner easy," said Burdette. "Running a town is a lot of work, and he would take the lion's share of everything. Because of his skill in dealing with department heads and details, it made our jobs much easier, I think."

A graduate of City College in Baltimore and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, McFaul served two tours of duty with the Army in Vietnam and completed a master's degree program in engineering. He left the Army in 1973 with the rank of major.

He began working for the town of Bel Air in 1974 as director of planning, overseeing the start of the town's planning department.

Charles Keenan, attorney for the town, said McFaul was a strong fiscal manager who for the past few years had served as chairman of the Local Government Insurance Trust Inc.

"Bel Air has always run like a clock with him there," Keenan said. "He saw the big picture and he always paid attention to detail."

David Funk, a lawyer for the insurance trust, said he spoke with McFaul shortly before his surgery and that McFaul talked of retiring within the next year to a home he and his wife had in West Virginia.

"He was really a rock in both Bel Air and the county," Funk said. "The hallmark of Bill was his wisdom. I don't think he realized how many people depended on him."

Burdette said town commissioners will hold a closed, emergency session today to decide how to proceed with a search to fill the administrator's position and what to do in the interrim.

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