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Former Mayor Don Frush dies at age 67

September 20, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer

Former Hagerstown Mayor Donald R. Frush, a memorable city official who was credited with passing the land-use laws that directed how the county would grow, died Thursday.

Frush, 67, who was mayor from 1981 to 1985, joined the volunteer Washington County Planning Commission in the 1960s when there were no local zoning laws, subdivision ordinances or master plans outlining how the county would grow.

Washington County was the last county in Maryland to pass zoning when Frush helped get the law through in 1973.

Frush also helped initiate the development of a number of county parks, pools, and the E.N. Funkhouser Boy Scout Reservation.

His administration also created the Downtown Assessment District designed to attract retail business to the area.

"The county would be lost without zoning. He ruled the planning commission with a strong hand," said former Mayor Steven T. Sager.

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Sager defeated Frush in 1985.

Frush made headlines during the 1985 campaign when he "disappeared" for several days just before the election. A Morning Herald reporter discovered Frush was recovering from stress and fatigue in the psychiatric ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

The story of Hagerstown's "missing mayor" was widely reported in The Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and other metro area news organizations.

Former City Council member Larry Vaughn said he believes Frush's disappearance cost him the election.

"Donald Frush had that election all wrapped up," said Vaughn.

After being voted out of office, Frush moved to Ocean City, Md., to work in the real estate business. He said Ocean City was a healthier place to live, and he used the lifestyle as a selling tool in his business there.

But Frush had recently moved back to the area, staying with relatives in Berkeley County, W.Va.

"I last saw him maybe a year and a half ago and he wasn't well. It was sad," Sager said.

City Councilman Bill Breichner said his first memory of Frush was after World War II when officials were planting trees at the city watershed near Smithsburg. Frush, a young boy at the time, was shown in a newspaper photo hanging out of a Fairchild military airplane scattering tree seeds over the watershed.

"It's a shame. I hate to hear it," Breichner said of Frush's death.

Frush's involvement in planning and the Republican party lured him into the 1981 race for mayor. When incumbent Mayor Pat Paddock decided not to run, Frush entered the race and defeated Democrat Lewis Metzner.

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