Paul Rappaport, 72, lawyer, Howard County police chief

September 12, 2006|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Paul H. Rappaport, a lawyer and former Howard County police chief who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, Maryland attorney general, and U.S. Senate, died of cancer Sunday at Mercy Medical Center. The Ellicott City resident was 72.

"He was such a loyal friend," said Ellen R. Sauerbrey, who chose Mr. Rappaport as her running mate in her 1994 gubernatorial campaign. "When I think of Paul Rappaport, I think of a man of few words but strong principles. He had a strong backbone. He was honest and had integrity. He loved his country, the Republican Party and his family."

Howard County officials who knew and worked with Mr. Rappaport remembered him yesterday as a kind, caring and straightforward person.

County Executive James N. Robey, himself a former county police chief, said Mr. Rappaport was "very caring - an outstanding individual."

"It was a real shocker this morning to get the call," Mr. Robey said, because Mr. Rappaport appeared to be successfully fighting the cancer diagnosed a year ago.

Mr. Rappaport began the Howard County Police Department's program that allows officers who live in the county to take their patrol cars home, said Mr. Robey, who had been promoted by him to the rank of major and first deputy chief.

"Whatever Paul told you was exactly right," said longtime County Councilman Charles C. Feaga, a western county Republican. "He was the kind of guy you would feel safe being in business with or being around. He was a very dear friend."

Elizabeth Bobo, a state delegate and former county executive, praised Mr. Rappaport as being "passionate about his work on the police force." She added that "he and his wife, Marge, were a very effective team in politics."

Mr. Rappaport's interests in politics began when he worked on the campaigns of his wife of 42 years, the former Margaret Duly. Mrs. Rappaport, a former judge of the Howard County Orphans' Court, is currently seeking a fifth term as clerk of the Howard County Circuit Court.

"He was a Democrat until 1990, when he joined the Republican Party. He was fiscally conservative but a social liberal," said his stepdaughter, Leslie A. Rosenthal of Ellicott City.

When Mrs. Sauerbrey ran for governor in 1994, Mr. Rappaport was head of her law enforcement committee before being tapped for the lieutenant governor's slot.

"I got to know Paul through Margy, who was active in my campaign. One of the hallmarks of my 1994 campaign was law enforcement, and Paul surfaced as the logical candidate to be lieutenant governor," said Mrs. Sauerbrey, now assistant U.S. secretary of state for population, refugees and migration.

"Paul was very patriotic. Down deep underneath he was more patriotic than anyone I've ever known," Mr. Feaga said. "He really believed he could do a better job. I admired him very much for that. Paul was in it for the good of his country, not for himself."

Mr. Rappaport was the Republican nominee for attorney general in 1998, and U.S. Senate in 2000 - losing to incumbent Democrats J. Joseph Curran Jr. and Paul S. Sarbanes, respectively.

A native of New York City, Mr. Rappaport spent his early years in the borough of Brooklyn before moving to Howard County with his family in 1942, when his father, a restaurateur, opened Rappaport's Parkway Manor in Jessup.

After graduating from Howard County High School in 1951, he joined the Maryland State Police as a cadet and rose to the rank of major. At his 1979 retirement, Mr. Rappaport was head of the vice and narcotics division.

"Paul was a real smart guy, well-liked, and a cop's cop. He was a good police officer and very shrewd," said Bill Brooks, a retired state police barracks commander and longtime friend. "He was a lot of fun, but when it came to police business he was very serious."

While Mr. Rappaport was working as a state trooper, he earned a bachelor's degree in 1972 and his law degree in 1974, both from the University of Baltimore.

Mr. Rappaport was Howard County police chief from 1979 until his retirement in 1987, and since then had maintained a civil and domestic law practice in Ellicott City.

In February, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. appointed Mr. Rappaport to the Maryland Aviation Commission.

Services with state and county police department honors will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville.

Also surviving are a daughter, Amy Rappaport of Ellicott City; a stepson, Glenn D. Shoemaker of Bethany Beach, Del.; and two step-granddaughters - a third having died Sept. 1.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Larry Carson contributed to this article.

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