Carl Speckman, 77, veteran, Planned Parenthood director

March 26, 2006|By RONA MARECH | RONA MARECH,SUN REPORTER

Carl E. Speckman, whose convictions led him to fight in the Korean War and also to direct Planned Parenthood of Maryland, died Wednesday at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium. The Sparks resident had lung and adrenal cancer. He was 77.

Mr. Speckman was born in Kansas City, Mo. After graduating from high school, he joined the Army in 1945.

He briefly attended West Point but decided the school wasn't for him and went on, instead, to serve overseas. Later, as a member of the Army Reserve, he fought in the Korean War and retired as a lieutenant in 1953.

A desire to protect his family kept him from talking much about his military experiences, said his daughter Alexandra Edmonds of Nixa, Mo. But she knew his time in the Army had been marked by difficulty from his reaction to July 4.

"He hated the sounds of bombs bursting in air," she said. "It didn't bring back good memories."

At the same time, he viewed his service as a defining period of his life, she said. "When you don't have the opportunity to fight for something, there's a part of you that's empty," he recently told her.

With assistance from the GI Bill, Mr. Speckman graduated from the University of Missouri, where he studied theater and worked as a disc jockey at the school's radio station. Throughout his life, he loved the big band music and other popular tunes he had played on his morning show.

After college, Mr. Speckman worked as a fundraiser at the National Muscular Dystrophy Foundation and then, for close to a decade, at Planned Parenthood. He was a regional director in the Midwest and became the executive director of Planned Parenthood of Maryland in 1970.

"I think he believed in independence; he believed in choice," his daughter said. "When he was in the Army, one of the reasons he believed in it so much was because of personal freedom. And Planned Parenthood was truly a haven for people to have personal freedom and choice."

He was working at the organization in 1973 when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling on Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that established the right to abortion. "He considered that a true victory for people," his daughter said.

Mr. Speckman was married for 24 years to Mary Janet Kraft. The marriage ended in divorce. He married Nancy Wilson in 1975.

After his stint at Planned Parenthood, Mr. Speckman supervised workers unloading cars from ships and oversaw factory workers at the Noxell Corp. He moved from Baltimore to Sparks and retired about 1990.

Mr. Speckman read and traveled extensively in retirement. He liked to tell people that he had visited every state, as well as 26 countries. He also had an impressive collection of history books.

"He was an intellectual egghead with a heart of gold," his daughter said.

He donated his body to the Maryland Anatomy Board. No service will be held.

Because he loved food, "our way of memorializing our dad is to go out to a wonderful meal together," his daughter said.

In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by a son, Robert Speckman of Washington, Mo.; two other daughters, Paula Starks of Marshall, Mo., and Susan West of Girard, Kan.; a sister, Shirley Donelson of Kansas City, Mo.; and five grandchildren.

rona.marech@baltsun.com

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