J. Elmer Weisheit Jr., 85, real estate attorney

July 14, 2005|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

J. Elmer "Mo" Weisheit Jr., a retired Towson real estate attorney who assisted in assembling the rural properties that became Columbia, died of a pulmonary embolism July 7 at his Brightwood retirement community home. He was 85 and had lived in Ruxton for nearly five decades.

Born in Philadelphia and raised in Churchville and Bolton Hill, Mr. Weisheit was a 1938 graduate of Polytechnic Institute, where he was named an All-Maryland football and lacrosse player by sports writers. While at Princeton University, earning a bachelor's degree in political science, he was an All-American lacrosse player from 1940 to 1942 and team captain his senior year.

"He was a spectacular close attack and could score by throwing the ball over his shoulder behind his back," said Arthur W. Machen Jr., a retired attorney and Princeton classmate.

Mr. Weisheit served in the Army from 1942 to 1946 and was stationed in the Pacific. After the war, he earned a law degree at Harvard University.

He established a Towson-based legal practice and became active in issues related to county government. He was formerly counsel to the Baltimore County Personnel and Salary Advisory Board, Planning Board and Board of Zoning Appeals. He also helped draft a set of zoning regulations adopted in the mid-1950s and was active in the movement that brought charter government to the county.

Running as an independent Democrat, Mr. Weisheit waged unsuccessful campaigns in 1958 and 1974 for the state Senate.

In the late 1950s, as chairman of the Advisory Athletic Evaluation Committee, he pushed for the county school system to establish an interscholastic high school football program after officials said the sport would be too expensive to fund. He also led a move for the construction of swimming pools in new secondary schools.

In the 1960s, as developer James Rouse was quietly acquiring the Howard County properties that became the basis of Columbia, Mr. Weisheit researched farm property titles, some of which dated to the 18th century. Working in conjunction with Baltimore lawyers, who kept the Columbia plan a closely held secret, he became a specialist in Howard County real estate matters.

"He knew every title in Columbia," said retired attorney Charles Albert, who recalled Mr. Weisheit driving in a succession of red Alfa Romeo convertibles with the top down - even in winter.

"He would wear a Russian fur hat to cover his head," Mr. Albert said. "There could be 2 inches of snow in the passenger seat."

Mr. Weisheit retired about two years ago. He occasionally played golf and was an avid bridge player.

A memorial service was held Monday at Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, where he was a member.

Survivors include his wife of 59 years, the former Jacquelin Merryman Wilson; a son, John Elmer Weisheit of Churchville; a brother, Bowen P. Weisheit of Abingdon; and three grandchildren. A son, Nicholas Weisheit, died in 1980.

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