George Radcliffe Sr., lawyer, environmentalist

March 23, 2009|By FREDERICK N. RASMUSSEN

George M. Radcliffe Sr., a retired lawyer and Eastern Shore environmentalist, died March 13 of viral meningitis and pneumonia at Memorial Hospital in Easton. He was 89.

Born in Baltimore, Mr. Radcliffe was the son of U.S. Sen. George L. Radcliffe, a Maryland Democrat, and Mary McKim Marriott Radcliffe.

Mr. Radcliffe was raised on Edgevale Road in Roland Park and graduated from Gilman School in 1939. He earned a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering in 1943 from Princeton University.

He enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1943 and was stationed as an aviation maintenance engineer on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands.

After being discharged with the rank of captain in 1946, he enrolled at the University of Maryland School of Law, where he earned his degree in 1949.

He began his career with Markell, Veazy and Gans and later joined the Baltimore law firm of Niles, Barton & Wilmer.

Mr. Radcliffe was chairman of the Zoning Commission of Baltimore from 1957 to 1971, a "period during which the commission prepared the new comprehensive zoning ordinance for the city," The Sun reported in 1974.

In the early 1970s, the former Cloverhill Road resident moved to Cambridge when Niles, Barton & Wilmer opened an office there. He retired in 1994.

He lived at Spocott, his 1,000-acre farm of grain fields, timber and marsh, and he was the first landowner in Maryland to obtain a conservation easement for his property, said his son, George Marriott Radcliffe Jr. of Cambridge.

During the 1970s, he was head of the New Neck District Association, a group of about 250 estate owners, working farmers and watermen living on a peninsula between the Choptank and Little Choptank rivers.

Mr. Radcliffe was a past president of the board of directors of Dorchester General Hospital and a member and past president of the board of trustees of the Dorchester County Historical Society.

He was a founder and president of the Spocott Windmill Foundation and a past president and board chairman of the Grace Foundation of Taylors Island. He was also a past trustee of Washington College.

Mr. Radcliffe was a communicant and Eucharistic minister of St. Mary's Refuge of Sinners Roman Catholic Church in Cambridge, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Tuesday.

Also surviving are his wife of 59 years, the former Augusta Heiskell "Gussie" Boggs; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. A daughter, Mary McKim Radcliffe, died in 1976. Another daughter, Augusta H. Radcliffe, and a son, William B. Radcliffe, were killed in an automobile accident in 1982.

Frederick N. Rasmussen

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