George Wyckoff Jr., 74, served 2 terms as Cumberland mayor

January 16, 2003|By Johnathon E. Briggs | Johnathon E. Briggs,SUN STAFF

George M. Wyckoff Jr., a two-term mayor of Cumberland who presided over the first, brief introduction of fluoride into his city's water supply, died Friday at Cumberland Memorial Hospital. He was 74, and suffered from multiple organ ailments, his family said.

Mr. Wyckoff, who owned the Cumberland Steel Co., was elected mayor in 1982. He served eight years before losing by 200 votes in the 1990 election to an anti-fluoride challenger. The campaign was dominated by debate over his support for putting cavity-fighting fluoride in the water.

Although fluoridation began two months before the election and ended shortly afterward, Mr. Wyckoff continued to fight for fluoridation. The city reintroduced it in 2001.

A native of Buffalo, N.Y., Mr. Wyckoff attended Yale University and moved to Hudson, Ohio, in his late teens to work for his great-uncle, who owned Wyckoff Steel Co. He moved to Cumberland in 1967 with his wife, the former Lucy Benedict Williams, and acquired Cumberland Steel Co.

In 1987, Mr. Wyckoff sold its assets to a Chicago steel company, ending a 40-year career in the business. He retained the Cumberland Steel building, forming Wyckoff Industries and renting business spaces and storage facilities.

Mr. Wyckoff had served on the board of several institutions, including Cumberland Memorial Hospital and First National Bank of Maryland, and as president of the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce, which named him Individual of the Year in 1999 - presenting a bottle of fluoridated water with the award.

Mr. Wyckoff's wife of 39 years died in 1996.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Cumberland's Emmanuel Episcopal Church, where Mr. Wyckoff was a parishioner.

Surviving are a son, George Benedict Wyckoff of Cumberland; two daughters, Lucy Annable Wyckoff DeVore of Palmetto, Fla., and Alice Wyckoff Honeycutt of Cresaptown; two sisters, Marjorie Annable Wyckoff Cook and Florence Wyckoff Durfee, both of Vero Beach, Fla.; and four grandchildren.

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