Howard W. Dashiells, 80, expert in forged documents

May 30, 2004|By Laura Loh | Laura Loh,SUN STAFF

Howard William Dashiells, a retired Maryland State Police lieutenant colonel and an expert in forged documents, died Tuesday of complications from Alzheimer's disease and a stroke at the Sunrise Assisted Living community in Severna Park. He was 80.

Mr. Dashiells was born in Baltimore and raised in the Forest Park neighborhood. After graduating from Forest Park High School in 1940, he joined the Army Air Corps and was trained as an air gunner.

During World War II, he served in northern France - in Normandy and Ardennes, during the Battle of the Bulge - and in central Europe. He was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant.

After the war, Mr. Dashiells enrolled in the state police academy. He was a member of the security detail for then-Gov. Theodore R. McKeldin and his family for four years, then transferred to the Investigation and Identification Division and attended night law school. He received a bachelor of law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 1960, the same year he married his first wife, the former Elsie Collins.

Mr. Dashiells became an expert in forged checks and other documents. After being promoted to the rank of detective sergeant, he helped establish the department's first full-service crime lab in 1973, and later, its first mobile crime lab.

In 1974, Mr. Dashiells became a major and chief of the Identification Division. Three years later, he was made a captain and given command of the department's Central Repository for Criminal Records. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and made chief of the Special Operations Bureau. He retired from the department in 1994.

Mr. Dashiells and his first wife, who had raised their two children in Riviera Beach, separated in 1984. Ten years later, he married the former Elizabeth Huggins-Fontanilla, a friend and fellow church musician. Mr. Dashiells played the string bass, and his wife played the violin.

The couple lived in Severna Park and devoted themselves to music. "We felt God gave us the talent of music, and we wanted to give that back," his wife said.

They were members of the Contemporary Music Ensemble at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Severna Park and a small group that performed for senior centers and nursing homes in Anne Arundel County. The couple also played in orchestras for Anne Arundel Community College theater productions and the college's symphony orchestra.

Mr. Dashiells especially enjoyed playing big-band music.

A funeral mass was held Friday at St. John the Evangelist.

Mr. Dashiells is also survived by a son, William Dashiells of Westminster; a daughter, Biancia Lynn Tate of Farmville, Va.; two stepdaughters, Mary Elizabeth Evans of Bel Air and Kimberly Anne Bunner of Leominster, Mass.; and 10 grandchildren.

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