James Foster Fanseen, 72, lawyer, Republican politician

March 18, 2000|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

James Foster Fanseen, a Baltimore lawyer who sought political office on the Republican ticket, died of cancer Wednesday at his Annapolis home. He was 72.

Running as a liberal Republican, he was a candidate for city comptroller in 1959 and city state's attorney in 1962. He was defeated both times.

In 1967 he was appointed to a seat on the federal Maritime Commission by President Lyndon B. Johnson. He served until 1971.

"Jim was the kind of guy you'd like to have as your brother," said Helen Delich Bentley, a former congresswoman and Maritime Commission chairwoman. "He never had a bad word to say. If someone was mad and angry, he'd try to be calming."

Born in Baltimore and reared in Windsor Hills, he was a 1946 graduate of Polytechnic Institute. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina in 1950 and a law degree from the University of Maryland in 1954.

He joined the Air Force and served on the judge advocate's staff with the rank of major.

He joined his father's law practice, Fanseen & Fanseen, in the mid-1950s. His political career was launched in 1957 when he was named a police magistrate by Gov. Theodore R. McKeldin.

Mr. Fanseen established a probationary system to assist first-time juvenile offenders.

He also was chairman of the city's Off-Street Parking Commission and the Mayor's Traffic Safety Committee.

He made news in the fall of 1960 by criticizing the city's mayor, Democrat J. Harold Grady, for allowing low-flying airplanes with trailing advertisement banners to circle around Memorial Stadium during a Baltimore Colts-Green Bay Packers football contest.

He said the mayor showed "a passive attitude" in not enforcing a law to keep the planes away from the stadium.

In 1977, he was fined $2,000 after pleading no contest to two misdemeanor charges for his role in helping to obtain a contribution from a subsidiary of the Singer sewing machine company to the 1972 Nixon-Agnew presidential campaign.

From 1980 to 1991, Mr. Fanseen served at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as a consultant to its administrator and a liaison to the White House and Capitol Hill.

He was a member of the Metropolitan and the Capitol Hill clubs in Washington, the Baltimore Country Club, the U.S. Naval Academy Officers and Faculty Club, and the Annapolis Yacht Club.

Funeral services will be held at 10: 30 a.m. today at Grace Methodist Church, Northern Parkway and Charles St.

He is survived by his companion, Tanya Muckley of Annapolis; two sisters, Radelle F. Rittenhouse of Towson and Helen F. Langrall of Baltimore; and five nieces.

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