Edward J. Bender Sr., 86, Balto. Co. parks employee

July 20, 2004

Edward J. Bender, assistant director of Baltimore County's recreation and parks programs for 25 years, died Saturday at Greater Baltimore Medical Center of complications from a severe head injury suffered in a fall. The Lutherville resident was 86.

Born and raised in Elizabeth, N.J., he earned a history degree from Princeton University. During World War II, he enlisted in the Army and served as a noncombatant, working to rehabilitate injured soldiers. After the war, Mr. Bender received a master's degree in recreation from the University of North Carolina.

After working in North Carolina recreation programs, he moved in 1954 to Loch Raven Village, and he joined what was then a small recreation and parks department.

"He was instrumental in shaping the county's programs and facilities throughout its rapid growth in the 1960s and 1970s," said son Edward Bender Jr. of Alexandria, Va. "He encouraged the parents and anyone interested to volunteer. After school hours, he used the buildings as recreation centers. His legacy was an organization based upon dual-use school/recreation centers, respect for the natural environment and education of the public in leisure skills."

Mr. Bender also focused attention to the county's tennis programs, where he organized lessons and tournaments for all age groups.

He retired in 1983 and was then president of the Maryland Recreation and Parks Association, where he received many awards for his work.

He also contributed to Native American organizations and played tennis until five years ago.

In retirement, he designed, planted and did upkeep to the grounds of the Roman Catholic Church of the Nativity in Timonium, where he sang in the choir and where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered.

Survivors include his wife of 52 years, the former Mary Alice Tate; two other sons, Stephen P. Bender of Hoover, Ala., and Christopher W. Bender of Cockeysville; three brothers, Robert A. Bender of Annapolis, Richard J. Bender of St. Louis and Raymond F. Bender of Hadley, Mass.; a sister, Genevieve M. Graham of Westfield, N.J.; and a grandson.

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