Richard A. Lidinsky Sr., 83, served 28 years as deputy city comptroller

December 13, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Richard A. Lidinsky Sr., a City Hall stalwart who served as deputy comptroller under eight Baltimore mayors, died of pulmonary failure Thursday at St. Joseph Medical Center. He was 83.

"Politicians ought to try and emulate Richard. He was honest, straightforward and fair -- all the good words," said Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, the former mayor and governor. "This is a real hit to the heart."

Mr. Lidinsky was born in Baltimore, the ninth of 10 children, and was raised on Linwood Avenue. His parents, Frank and Mary Hora Lidinsky, operated a tailor shop in the old Bohemian neighborhood of East Baltimore.

FOR THE RECORD - Correction
Richard A. Lidinsky Sr.:
In an obituary published in yesterday's editions for Richard A. Lidinsky Sr., a survivor was inadvertently omitted. He is also survived by a brother, Charles Lidinsky of Denville, N.J.

After graduating from City College in 1938, he went to work at the Baltimore Commercial Bank branch at Monument Street and Collington Avenue. While working as a clerk at the bank, he met his future wife, the former Angela Miller, who worked for Bocek Bros., a nearby electrical contracting firm.

"I'd take the deposits to the bank where Richard worked. He ran the Christmas Club, and a lady told me that I had to pay 25 cents to meet him. He was so handsome," said Mrs. Lidinsky.

The couple married Dec. 26, 1945, lived for years on East Melrose Avenue in Northeast Baltimore and renewed their vows every year, Mrs. Lidinsky said.

Mr. Lidinsky enlisted in the Navy the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor and served in intelligence at posts in Washington and Philadelphia.

After the war, he enrolled at what is now the University of Baltimore School of Law where he earned a law degree in 1948.

He began working in 1946 for then-Rep. Thomas J. D'Alesandro Jr. in his Baltimore and Washington offices. He followed Mr. D'Alesandro to City Hall when Mr. D'Alesandro was elected to the first of his three terms as mayor in 1947.

Mr. Lidinsky served as Mr. D'Alesandro's confidential secretary and eventually became executive secretary.

"He was my father's right arm, and the comptroller's office is what it is today because of him," said former Baltimore Mayor Thomas J. D'Alesandro III. "He was a model citizen whose family and church were very important to him. This is a real personal loss for me."

"When 'Old Tommy' got sick, Richard was the mayor. He never made a big deal about it and did what he was supposed to do. And he had everyone's confidence," Mr. Schaefer said.

After Mr. D'Alesandro left office in 1959, Mr. Lidinsky worked as an administrative assistant for Rep. Edward A. Garmatz.

Mr. Lidinsky was appointed deputy city comptroller in 1962.

He held that position for the next 28 years, serving under Hyman A. Pressman, the irrepressible civic gadfly.

Because Mr. Pressman, an Orthodox Jew, strictly observed the Sabbath from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday evening, Mr. Lidinsky served as the city's comptroller one day each week.

Julian L. Lapides, former state senator who heads the Mount Royal Democratic Club, said yesterday, "He was a noble public servant. He really made public service an honorable thing."

As mayoral administrations and City Councils came and went, Mr. Lidinsky seemed to be the one fixed point in City Hall.

"Richard Lidinsky was one of the most respected and revered men in City Hall when I was serving on the City Council. He set the highest standards for service by a municipal employee. You could always take what Richard Lidinsky told you to the bank," said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski. "He was a gentleman of the old school. He put people first and knew how to get the job done."

Mr. Lidinsky retired in 1991. At his City Hall retirement, Mr. Lidinsky, a devout Roman Catholic, quoted from memory a passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes: "There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens."

"He was always so kind to me and my family when we would see him at St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church. He gave me a tie clip with the Battle Monument, and I wore it to my swearing-in," said Mayor Martin O'Malley.

During his tenure at City Hall, Mr. Lidinsky kept an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help on his desk.

"He had made a special devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help and at his death had a copy of the medal in his hand," said a son, Richard A. Lidinsky Jr., an attorney who lives in Roland Park.

Mr. Lidinsky was a member of Saint Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church and his childhood parish of St. Wenceslaus Roman Catholic Church, where he served on the Holy Name Society, parish council and men's retreat club. He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus, Order of Alhambra and American Legion.

He was an avid reader of newspapers, and he enjoyed playing poker with a group of friends and going to the races at Pimlico Race Course.

"His first love was serving the city of Baltimore," said his son.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Lidinsky is survived by two other sons, Mark L. Lidinsky of Cape Cod, Mass., and Frank G. Lidinsky of Towson; a daughter, Mary Angela Mahoney of Homeland; and seven grandchildren.

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