T. Bayard Williams Jr., 90, attorney, longtime county education official

February 23, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

T. Bayard Williams Jr., a retired Baltimore attorney who served on the Baltimore County Board of Education for 22 years and helped save Boys' Latin School from closing, died Wednesday at Manor Care Towson of complications from a fall. He was 90 and a longtime Towson resident.

Mr. Williams was born in Baltimore and raised on the Patapsco River Neck in southeastern Baltimore County. He was the son of an attorney.

He graduated in 1930 from Boys' Latin, then located at Brevard and Howard streets across from Mount Royal Station, and earned his bachelor's degree from the Johns Hopkins University in 1935. After earning his law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1938, he began practicing law.

During World War II, he served in the Army's Counter-Intelligence Corps and was discharged with the rank of sergeant.

After returning to Baltimore at war's end, he resumed practicing law. He also he served as counsel, director and member of the board of Patapsco Federal Savings & Loan. He retired in 1990, but remained of counsel with the law firm of Nolan, Plumhoff and Williams until fully retiring in 1995.

Mr. Williams, a large, robust man who maintained a lifelong interest in education, joined the Baltimore County Board of Education in 1956. He served the board - including eight years as president - until retiring in 1978.

He earned the sobriquet "Mr. Education" for his long tenure with the board.

Describing himself politically as a "Rooseveltian New Dealer," Mr. Williams told The Evening Sun in a 1970 interview: "When it comes to quality and methods of spending for education, I'm probably a liberal, although most people would probably consider me a conservative."

In 1969, when the Baltimore County Council passed a resolution demanding that highly detailed information be made available to parents before a sixth-grade sex education program was instituted, Mr. Williams called the resolution and subsequent dispute "ridiculous."

He told reporters: "I'm getting a little bitter about this. I don't mind telling you. I never thought sex would bore me, but I am, and you can quote me."

Mr. Williams said the board would hold orientation meetings for parents but would not supply information by mail because it wasn't done for any other course. "We're not going to do anything to hurt or harm the morals of the children," he said.

Robert Y. Dubel, former Baltimore County superintendent and a longtime close friend, described Mr. Williams as a "great curmudgeon who was soft underneath. He had a great sense of humor and - like H.L. Mencken, whom he admired - liked to needle people."

Mr. Dubel recalled Mr. Williams' persuasiveness in lobbying in Annapolis for Baltimore County's public schools.

"He made a tremendous impact and was able to interest legislators in our needs. As a young man, he formulated the philosophy that public schools were important to the republic," Mr. Dubel said.

Mr. Dubel said Mr. Williams understood the "art of compromise" and was always "persuaded by a good argument." At the end of a heated debate, he'd say, "I'll do it for the school system and the kids," Mr. Dubel said.

Mr. Williams came to the aid of his brother, Jack H. Williams, who was head of the Boys' Latin Alumni Association when urban renewal forced the school's move in 1960 from downtown to its current home, the former 17-acre Cooper estate on West Lake Avenue.

The two brothers and Okie O'Connor, who formed the Boys' Latin School of Maryland Corp., were successful in finding a new home for the school, which is the oldest nonsectarian private school in the Baltimore area. Mr. Williams' brother was named headmaster in 1962. He died in 1978.

For many years, Mr. Williams served as secretary of the corporation and was a longtime member of Boys' Latin's board.

A 45-year resident of Charles Street Avenue, Mr. Williams lived since 1998 at the Penthouse Condominium in Towson. He had many civic interests and had served on many boards. He was named Towson Citizen of the Year in 1969, and Dundalk Citizen of the Year in 1985.

He was a member of Hazbins, Wannabes and Never Wuzzes, an occasional luncheon group of former county politicos and officials.

Mr. Williams was married in 1946 to the former Genevieve Louise Clarke, who died in 1979.

He was a communicant of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Lutherville.

Services were yesterday.

Survivors include his wife of 22 years, the former Shirley I. Jones; two daughters, Mary Louise Waters of Baldwin and Stephanie Williams Brown of Westminster; a stepson, Frederick C. Williams of Wiltondale; a stepdaughter, Cheryl McAuley of College Park; three grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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