Francis C. Ehart

Age 93 Linthicum Heights resident was executive of stationery company that provided forms for state agencies.

"He often remarked he handled state business from 'womb to tomb,' " his son said.

August 23, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,Sun Reporter

Francis C. Ehart, a retired stationery company executive and former longtime Linthicum Heights resident, died Tuesday of a cerebral hemorrhage at the Hospice of the Chesapeake in Harwood. He was 93.

Mr. Ehart was born in Baltimore and raised on Marshall Street. He attended city public schools until the eighth grade and later earned his General Educational Development diploma while attending night school.

In 1931, Mr. Ehart began working as an office boy for D.N. Owens & Co. Inc., a Baltimore business forms company located on Calvert Street.

He rose through the ranks and managed the company's printing operation until it was destroyed in a 1948 fire.

"After the fire, the owner, Dorsey Owens, decided to permanently close the printing plant and concentrate on sales," said Mr. Ehart's son, Dr. Charles W. Ehart, former director of the state's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division.

"In order to stay employed, he was thrust into the sales end of the business with no experience or accounts," his son said. "He went around knocking on doors and, on the strength of his outgoing personality, began getting business. He was very service-oriented."

Mr. Ehart eventually became the company's top salesman and along the way earned respect from his co-workers and competitors who earlier thought he might fail as a salesman.

"He helped usher in the era of continuous computer forms, designing each form to scale meticulously by hand," Dr. Ehart said.

Mr. Ehart supplied computer forms to a majority of state agencies. Those forms included state payroll checks, tax refund checks, tax assessment notices, driver's licenses and vehicle titles and registration cards.

"He often remarked he handled state business from 'womb to tomb,' providing both birth and death certificates to state and local governments," his son said.

At the time of his 1980 retirement, Mr. Ehart was providing Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland with most of its computer forms.

"He was a gentleman in every respect," said S. Gordon Thompson, who is retired from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland, where he had been vice president of information services.

"If we had an unexpected shortage, he'd do everything that was humanly possible to satisfy us," said Mr. Thompson, who became a close friend.

"After he retired, the company lost the state business. And I remember looking at my state paycheck one day and checking the payroll roster," his son said. "I had the last payroll check from the last order he sold the state before he retired. What are those odds?"

He was married for 38 years to the former Lucille Phillips, who died in 1983.

Mr. Ehart, who had lived in Severn since 2003, enjoyed traveling and taking cruises. He enjoyed home-improvement projects and spending time at a second home in Ocean City he had owned since 1968.

He also liked sipping two carefully prepared Old Grandad bourbon Manhattans each day, his son said.

"His last words were, 'Give me a Manhattan,' " Dr. Ehart said.

Mr. Ehart was a founder and communicant of St. Philip Neri Roman Catholic Church, 6405 S. Orchard Road, Linthicum, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. today.

He is also survived by a grandson.

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