Henry H. Purdy, 87, Easton mayor, volunteer firefighter, accountant

October 16, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Henry Harrison Purdy, an accountant who served two terms as Easton's mayor and was active in Eastern Shore volunteer fire circles, died of gastric disease Tuesday at Memorial Hospital at Easton. He was 87.

Born in Northumberland, Pa., and raised in Williamsport, he worked for Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines in New Jersey before moving to the Eastern Shore in 1937.

He was employed at Price's Tire Shop in Easton and the Oxford Boatyard before joining the Navy in 1942. He served at the Bainbridge Naval Training Center and in the Pacific.

After the war, he opened his own Easton bookkeeping and tax accounting business, which he sold in 1971. But he remained active in the firm and its successors. At the time of his death, he was still doing accounting work.

A lifelong Republican, Mr. Purdy was elected to the Easton Town Council and represented the city's Ward 1 from 1954 until he ran successfully for mayor in 1971, serving two successive terms. From 1979 until 1981 he was Town Council president.

"He was a legend here," said Easton's mayor, Robert C. Willey. "He was determined. He didn't walk on people, but, in his own quiet way, he was determined."

Mr. Purdy was also a former secretary of the Talbot County Board of Election Supervisors and a former board member.

A member of the Maryland Municipal League's board from 1962 until 1979, he served as its president from 1966 until 1967.

He was inducted into the Maryland Municipal League Hall of Fame in 2000. He was also a past secretary-treasurer of the Easton Businessmen's Association. He was a member and past president of the Easton Rotary Club and worked to get the organization involved with Meals on Wheels and the annual Waterfowl Festival.

Mr. Purdy spent more than 60 years in the Easton Volunteer Fire Company. As a younger man, he fought fires and drove the sick and injured to area hospitals.

"Many a time we'd be coming home from church and we'd hear the fire siren go off," said his daughter, Margaret Ann Lednum of Easton. "He'd drop me off at my great-grandmother's house and run and take the ambulance out. He did this for years."

She recalled that her father liked riding on the end of the town's hook-and-ladder truck and participated in fighting one of Easton's larger fires, a blaze that destroyed the Nevius hardware store on Goldsborough Street nearly 50 years ago.

He was named a life member of the Fire Company in 1967. Mr. Purdy had served as the Fire Company's secretary, trustee and vice president. He was the recipient of the Maryland State Firemen's Association's Marbery F. Gates Service Cup Award in 1991.

Mr. Purdy was inducted into the halls of fame of the Eastern Shore Volunteer Firemen's Association, Delmarva Firemen's Association, the Talbot County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, the Maryland State Firemen's Association and the Firemen's Historical Foundation of Delmarva.

A Mason, he was a 60-year member of Coats Lodge No. 102 in Easton, where he held numerous offices and was a member of Talbot Royal Arch Chapter No. 22 and the Order of the Eastern Star No. 65. He was also secretary and treasurer of the Spring Hill Cemetery in Easton.

His first wife, the former Elmira Collins, died in 1978. They were married for 38 years.

Services will be held at 3 p.m. today at Christ Church, where he was a past vestryman, senior warden, lay reader, treasurer and chalice bearer.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife of 21 years, the former Anna G. Patrick; a son, Henry H. Purdy Jr. of Federalsburg; two stepsons, Dale L. Patrick of Edgewater and Frank E. Patrick Jr. of Carrollton, Va.; eight grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

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