George E. Dail, talk-radio host and columnist, dies

Family members said he was 'never at a loss for words'

  • George Dail
George Dail
January 26, 2011|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

George E. Dail, a retired businessman who was a talk-radio host and newspaper columnist, died Saturday of congestive heart failure at Stella Maris Hospice.

The longtime Aberdeen resident was 80.

Mr. Dail, the son of a Ford Motor Co. executive and a homemaker, was born and raised in Norfolk, Va.

Mr. Dail dropped out of high school, lied about his age and enlisted in the Army when he was 16 years old. He was stationed in Germany, where he played in an Army band.

After being discharged from the Army in the late 1940s, he earned his General Education Development diploma. He enrolled at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., where he earned a bachelor's degree and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

While he was in college, he met Carol Miller, whom he married in 1954.

In the early 1960s, the couple moved to Leonardtown, where he owned and operated a small radio station. There he honed his skills as a morning drive-time personality and was the advertising voice of the Stardust Inn in Waldorf.

Mr. Dali moved to Towson in 1966, when he launched his career as a retailer. He sold sewing machines and stereo equipment until the late 1960s, when he founded Unclaimed Freight Co. Inc., which eventually grew to eight stores throughout Maryland.

In 1985, he sold the business and returned to his first love, radio and TV broadcasting. He joined WCBM-AM as a talk-show host and was a regular on WJZ-TV's "Square Off" moderated by Richard Sher.

Mr. Dail, a conservative Republican who hated Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, brought that perspective to his broadcasting work.

"He became a regular, super-conservative outspoken panelist during 'Square Off's' original run back in the 1980s and 1990s," said Mr. Sher, who is executive producer and moderator of the current edition of "Square Off."

"Those were the days of Elane Stein, Dr. Edgar Berman, Madeline Murphy, Betty Hamburger and Marian Banfield — all sadly deceased," Mr. Sher recalled.

"Back then, lots of what George said on the program was considered outrageous. Today, it would seem mild in comparison. George was a very likeable guy and always gave his fellow panelists their talking time," he said. "We enjoyed George and also liked listening to him when he filled in on WCBM."

Family members said Mr. Dail was "never at a loss for words" or informed opinions.

Tom Marr, a longtime WCBM radio host who earlier had been a WFBR radio personality, was another longtime friend and admirer.

"George would fill in for me on Saturdays and for other radio personalities," said Mr. Marr.

"He was conservative and had a very brilliant intellect," he said. "He had a wonderful voice for stage and screen. It was a big, booming voice and it came across very well on the radio."

Mr. Marr added that Mr. Dail was "interesting to listen to because of his life experiences" and was "always popular with the listeners."

In addition to his broadcasting work, Mr. Dail began writing "Hard Tack and Jerky" in 1985. The column was published in the Harford Sun, a former weekly zoned edition of The Sunday Sun.

Basically political in nature, Mr. Dail's columns occasionally looked at other subjects. In a 1985 column, he wrote about the joys of purchasing a new book and recalling a bumper sticker he had seen: "If you can read this — thank your teacher."

"I slipped my new treasure from its bag and placed it gently on the table before me, anxious to flex its binding, to feel its smooth pages and smell the scent of ink on fresh paper. To read," he wrote.

"Reading — the language, the ability to communicate, to talk, to write — is a joy to me. It is also, in my opinion, the greatest treasure of humankind," Mr. Dail opined.

Mr. Dail's columns and conservative views could raise the blood pressure of readers. In a letter to the editor published in the Harford Sun, a reader wrote that the columnist was "a champion of no-class commentary."

"What else would you tag a fellow who compares an abortion to a nose job and Americans to overworked lazy mules. George would have us turn back the clock to the day when good, decent, hardworking Americans didn't have to be burdened with helping those less fortunate than he," wrote the correspondent. "Helping 'lazy mule' human beings only makes them lazier, says George."

Mr. Dail wrote a similar weekly column for The Aegis, a Harford County newspaper.

Todd Holden, a Harford County photographer who was an Aegis reporter for many years, said that when Mr. Dail arrived at a Bel Air bagel shop, he was always chatting on a cell phone. And when seated, he would listen before joining in conversation with his fellow diners.

"He was an interesting man who had the air of being very well read and up to the minute on world affairs," Mr. Holden said.

In the late 1970s, Mr. Dail and his wife purchased Winstead, a nine-room Federal-period house in Chuirchville that was built in 1795.

The couple spent thousands of hours and thousands of dollars on a restoration that resulted in the home, which had been built by Christian Hoopman, a brickmaker, being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

"This is one of the most interesting things I've done in my life," Mr. Dail told The Sunday Sun Magazine.

Mr. Dail was a member of the Harford County Historical Society.

Mrs. Dail died in 1994.

He was a communicant of St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 1 St. Mary's Church Road in Abingdon, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday.

Surviving are two sons, George Byron Dail of Silver Spring and Stephen T. Dail of Aberdeen; two daughters, Adrienne D. Earnshaw of Havre de Grace and Karen D. Kelley of Bluefield, W.Va.; and seven grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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