Carlton R. Sickles, 82, lawmaker known as `the father of Metro'

January 19, 2004|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

Former Maryland Congressman Carlton R. Sickles, whose tireless work on the Washington Metrorail transit system earned him the title "the father of Metro," died of congestive heart failure Saturday at his Bethesda home. He was 82.

"He always said he would never retire," his wife of nearly seven years, Jacqueline Eig Sickles, said last night. "He said he would go until he was forced to stop, and that's what happened. The day before he died, he was in his office."

Mr. Sickles served in the House of Delegates from 1955 to 1962, when he won election as Maryland's first congressman at large, representing the entire state. He served four years, and was a member of the House education and labor committees.

He also was chairman of the Interstate Compact Commission, using his position to help establish the legal framework for Metro.

In 1967, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority was created, and Mr. Sickles became a member of its board of directors. Except for a few years, he served on the board until his death.

Mr. Sickles was well-known in Maryland for his gubernatorial run, in which he narrowly lost the Democratic nomination to George P. Mahoney in 1966. Mahoney's polarizing campaign slogan, "Your home is your castle - protect it," was interpreted by some as racist and prompted many Democrats to cross party lines in the election of Republican Spiro T. Agnew.

Mr. Sickles was born in Hamden, Conn., and moved to Washington as a child. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1939, Georgetown University in 1943 and - after Army service in World War II - its law school in 1948. He also served in the Air Force from 1951 to 1952, during the Korean War.

He was general counsel to the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers from 1954 until 1963, and an adjunct professor at the Georgetown law school from 1960 to 1967.

He was a partner in the law firm of Goldberg, Thompson, Pastermak & Sickles from 1979 until 1986.

From 1960 until he died, he was an executive and part owner in Carday Associates Inc., which specializes in welfare and pension plans.

A daughter, Simone Rockstroh of Lisbon, said her father was a loving mentor who gave all members of the family a world almanac each Christmas.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. Elizabeth Roman Catholic Church, 917 Montrose Road in Rockville.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Sickles is survived by a stepdaughter, Eden Eig-Tassiello of Gaithersburg; two grandchildren; two stepgrandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His wife of nearly 43 years, the former Simone Shornick, died in 1990.

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