Town's attorney of 3 decades dies at 88

Marker J. Lovell helped shape community, county

`He ... was very knowledgeable'

New Windsor

December 31, 2003|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

During more than three decades as the attorney for the small town of New Windsor, Marker J. Lovell wrote almost all of the municipal code, and he stayed long enough to revise much of it. He was a court master, and he served on commissions that helped to shape development in Carroll County.

As recently as last week, he was in his office on Court Street in Westminster. Even at age 88, "he never wanted to hear about retirement," said Dolores Bankert, his longtime secretary. Mr. Lovell died Saturday of congestive heart failure at Carroll Hospital Center in Westminster.

At a Mass of Christian burial to be offered at 11 a.m. today at St. John Roman Catholic Church in Westminster, he will be remembered, as one admirer described him, as "one of the grand old men in this community."

Mr. Lovell, who lived in Westminster, had deep roots in Carroll County.

He was born at his grandfather's farm near New Windsor, said his brother, John Cornell Lovell Sr., who lives in the home now. He was a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park and earned his law degree at the University of Maryland law school. He worked as an attorney for New Amsterdam Casualty Co. before and after his service in World War II, when he was a major in the Army Air Forces as a stateside supply officer, his brother said.

In 1964, he opened his law office on Court Street, where his wife often worked with him. He was married for 53 years to the former Eleanor Kuhlmann, who survives him. He also is survived by three nephews.

Beginning in the 1960s, Mr. Lovell served on the old Carroll County Sanitary Commission, and at the time of his death was chairman of the county's State Highway Administration Property Review Board.

In these two roles, he participated in the development of then-rural Carroll County, handling the tricky negotiations between government and private property owners.

"He was in the vanguard in shaping zoning laws in his early work in Carroll County," said former New Windsor Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr.

T. Bryan McIntire, a Baltimore County councilman and former Carroll County state's attorney, met Mr. Lovell during the mid-1950s and later served as a master with Mr. Lovell. One of his fondest memories was serving as an expert witness for Mr. Lovell in a classic small-town quarrel over ownership of an alley in Detour during the 1970s.

"We went back in time to show there was a mistake in the town map," Mr. McIntire said. "There was a lot of minutiae. We really had to look at all the ... crannies. But Marker was good at that. That was fun. He really delved into the history of the town."

During his 40-year legal career, Mr. Lovell was named the county's first master in chancery, hearing divorce and custody cases for 22 years, until 1992. And he was New Windsor's town attorney for 36 years, until 2001.

"He probably wrote 85 percent of the town code over the years," said Michelle M. Ostrander, now the town attorney. "Whenever I called him - even after he was not representing the town for a few years - he always was very knowledgeable and had very clear recollection of everything he had done over the years."

Although his work for the town included the usual annexations and water and sewer rates, a few cases were out of the ordinary.

Mr. Lovell was involved with a team that wrote a new provision after an unprecedented tie vote for a council seat revealed no mechanism for dealing with such a scenario. And he was quite willing to pursue the giant Southland Corp. over an unpaid $100 town water bill.

Mr. Gullo, the New Windsor mayor from 1994 to 2001, called Mr. Lovell a "mentor" and "my right-hand man."

"He oversaw the legal aspects of the developments, which the town had never seen before, not since World War II - and never on the scale we saw it," Mr. Gullo said. "Marker was the legal watchdog on this issue.

"To have that kind of expertise at your disposal was a benefit to me and the citizens of New Windsor," he said, adding, "He charged only a token amount. He did it because he enjoyed it."

Mr. Lovell also was an avid University of Maryland, College Park basketball fan, Mr. Gullo said. "We'd be down there with all the kids in the stands, in a crowd full of screaming, yelling college kids, but he wasn't out of place," the former mayor said.

Mr. Lovell liked to refinish furniture, and he restored the Springdale school building, a one-room red-brick school outside New Windsor that he had attended as a boy.

"From the time he came back to Carroll County to practice law, he was a very gentlemanly person, a very easygoing person," said Mr. McIntire. "He inspired confidence, and I found it a pleasure to work both with or against him."

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