Charles Leo McLhinney

[ Age 76 ] Havre de Grace news dealer delivered papers for decades and instilled a solid work ethic in his employees.

Some of his newsboys later became doctors, judges and lawyers, said his daughter.

December 24, 2007|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,Sun reporter

Charles Leo McLhinney, the amiable Havre de Grace news dealer who braved all kinds of weather for 40 years to make sure his customers received their newspapers, died of congestive heart failure Dec. 14 at Harford Memorial Hospital. He was 76.

Mr. McLhinney was born, raised and spent his entire life in Havre de Grace, where his father, Walter McLhinney, established McLhinney's News Depot on North Washington Street in 1922.

"He started delivering papers for his father when he was 5 years old because he wanted a pair of sneakers, and his father told him he'd have to work for them - and he never stopped working," said his wife of 55 years, the former Mary Phillips.

Mr. McLhinney, a 1949 graduate of Havre de Grace High School, served with an Army infantry unit in Korea from 1952 to 1954.

He later took over the family business that, for about five decades, was located at 212 N. Washington St.

"The old place was about 6 feet wide but kind of long. There was only room for two people to stand side by side," said Mrs. McLhinney, a former nurse who worked in the store selling papers and dipping the Breyers Ice Cream they also sold. "We worked from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, 52 weeks a year."

"We also sold cigarettes and magazines. After we began selling lottery tickets in the early 1970s, we moved to a larger place a few doors away at 208 N. Washington," Mrs. McLhinney said.

"Everyone hung around there, standing and talking and enjoying the fresh-roasted nuts they also sold," said a daughter, Annie McLhinney Cochran of Vista, Calif.

"About every boy in the community at one time or other worked as a newsboy, and today they're doctors, judges, lawyers, and a couple have even become congressmen," said Mrs. Cochran, a former editor of San Diego North magazine.

"And not one of them ever turned out bad," Mrs. McLhinney added. "Charles was a very good boss, and he was very patient with kids. But if he got mad, he'd tell you off. But two minutes later, it was like it never happened."

He delivered The Sun, The Evening Sun, News American, The Washington Post, Washington Star, The New York Times, Daily News, Philadelphia Inquirer, The Bulletin, USA Today and the Racing Form.

"We always had a green Chevy truck - they were green because his father was proud of his Irish heritage. He had an old Army gray jeep he used to deliver papers during snowstorms," Mrs. McLhinney said.

Mr. McLhinney's home delivery route took him all over Havre de Grace and Aberdeen and onto Aberdeen Proving Ground and the old Bainbridge Naval Training Station in Port Deposit.

"He delivered the whole town of Havre de Grace. I mean hundreds and hundreds of papers every day of every month," said Dr. Thomas E. Jordan, a Bel Air surgeon, who started working for Mr. McLhinney when he was in the third grade.

"He was a good man and a perfect role model for young paperboys. He was firm, but he paid you fairly, and he was ethical," he said.

Mr. McLhinney ended home delivery in the 1980s and closed the business and retired in 1997.

"The McLhinneys were an iconic Havre de Grace family and were both well-known and well-liked," said Todd Holden, a photographer and former Aegis reporter.

"Everyone went to the News Depot to get their papers and racing forms. It was a real hub," Mr. Holden said

Mr. McLhinney led the Havre de Grace Board of Elections for two decades and was a lifetime member and former chief of the Susquehanna Hose Company. He was a member of the Havre de Grace Elks, American Legion Post 47, Catholic War Veterans Post 1841, and the Weedon Elliott Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Mr. McLhinney always wore a 9th Infantry hat in honor of his brother, Francis McLhinney, who was killed in World War II. He was an honorary member of the 9th Infantry Division Association and spent time chronicling his brother's wartime military career.

Mr. McLhinney was a longtime communicant of St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Havre de Grace, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Tuesday.

Also surviving are a son, Charles Leo McLhinney Jr. of Oceanside, Calif.; another daughter, Mary Frances Walker of Havre de Grace; a brother, Jack McLhinney of Havre de Grace; a sister, Eleanor Ferguson of Havre de Grace; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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