Senator from Md., `reluctant warrior'

Political career began in Assembly

J. Glenn Beall Jr.

1927-2006

March 25, 2006|By JACQUES KELLY | JACQUES KELLY,SUN REPORTER

J. Glenn Beall Jr., the low-key Western Maryland Republican who rose to become a U.S. senator, died of cancer yesterday at his Frostburg home. He was 78.

A member of a prominent political family - his father, J. Glenn Beall, served two terms in the U.S. Senate - Mr. Beall was a leader of the state's Republican Party through its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s, when President Richard M. Nixon came to Baltimore and campaigned for him.

"His motto was always, `service above self,'" said his brother, former U.S. Attorney for Maryland George Beall, who lives in Lutherville. "He was such a part of the Western Maryland landscape and its affairs. He was consistently amiable, optimistic and uncomplaining."

Newspaper stories referred to him as a "reluctant warrior who fought the good fight" for Maryland's Republican Party.

The Maryland House of Delegates ended its morning session yesterday with a moment of silence for Mr. Beall, who was first elected to it in 1962.

"J. Glenn Beall Jr. was an extraordinary Marylander, serving his state and country as a naval officer, state lawmaker, congressman and U.S. senator," Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said yesterday. "He will be remembered as a devoted son of Western Maryland and an accomplished advocate for the state of Maryland."

Del. George C. Edwards, the House Minority Leader from Garrett County, said he played a "profound role" in economic development in Western Maryland, even after he left office. He was instrumental in the Canal Place project in Cumberland as well as downtown revitalization efforts there.

"He was just a good guy, a down-to-earth country boy," Mr. Edwards said.

State Sen. John J. Hafer called him a civic leader who was working hard to get federal money for a local canal restoration project that has not been completed.

"He's just an all-around good person, and I grew up with him," Mr. Hafer said.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat, recalled Mr. Beall as an "old school" politician who was able to reach out to people of all political stripes.

"He was just a good friend and a good role model," Mr. Miller said. "He was a person who had as many friends on the Democratic side as he had on the Republican side."

Born June 19, 1927, in Cumberland, Mr. Beall attended public schools in Frostburg and the Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H. At 18, he enlisted in the Navy and served during World War II.

After the war he received an economics degree from Yale University in 1950. While at Yale he was active in the Political Union and the Young Republicans, and played varsity lacrosse and ran a snack bar business.

Mr. Beall became active in the Republican party in 1953 when he was elected president of the Maryland Federation of Young Republicans. He was chairman of the Republican State Central Committee for Allegany County from 1958 to 1962.

Elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1962, he was chosen minority floor leader in his first term and held the post until he was elected in 1968 to the U.S. House, where he served a term.

Early on he established himself as a natural orator, according to his daughter, Victoria Lee Muth of North Bethesda.

While in the House, he served on the Committee on Banking and Currency, and the Armed Services Committee. He supported the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, a position that newspaper stories suggested might have cost him votes in later years.

In 1970, Mr. Beall defeated in an upset the Democratic incumbent Joseph D. Tydings to gain a seat in the Senate, where he served for a term. Days before the election, Mr. Nixon endorsed Mr. Beall at the Steelworkers Hall on Dundalk Avenue before a crowd of 2,000.

While in office, Mr. Beall pushed for funding for a number of local projects including Baltimore harbor dredging, additions to the Social Security Administration complex in Woodlawn and the Gay Street Urban Renewal Project.

"Glenn was the epitome of the total forthright, constituent-service state and federal legislator of those prior decades," said Jervis Finney, a prominent Maryland Republican, who serves as the governor's top lawyer.

Colleagues recalled his low-key style and preference for constituent service. In a 1978 article he wrote for The Sun, he listed his role in the creation of amendments to the Older Americans Act, the Physicians Shortage Scholarship program and Crimes Against Elderly legislation.

"I wrote the Historic Preservation Tax Act which will help revitalize cities like Baltimore," he said, adding that the program would "preserve historic buildings that are now being torn down."

"He was never openly interested in either of the two major commodities here - publicity and power - and consequently he is remembered by his colleagues from both sides of the aisle with a kind of mild fondness," a Sun story said of his years as a senator.

Mr. Beall ran for re-election in 1976 and took on Democrat Paul S. Sarbanes, who soundly defeated him.

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