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Local politicians mourn Goldstein's passing

July 05, 1998|By SHEILA HOTCHKIN and DAVE McMILLIONs

Del. D. Bruce Poole first saw longtime Maryland Comptroller Louis Goldstein at a Baltimore Colts game in the early 1960s. Then only a child, Poole remembers being fascinated by the charismatic Goldstein, who held the same office even then.

"I can remember him working the crowd - at a football game!" recalled Poole, D-Washington County. "And I said, 'Who is that man, Dad?' And he said, 'Oh, that's Louie.'"

Poole, now 39, thought of the dynamic public servant on a first-name basis from that day on.

News of Goldstein's death Friday night at age 85 cast a pall over the holiday weekend for his colleagues in Washington County.

Poole recalled how Goldstein started every day with a morning swim and continued to commute to Annapolis long after most people of his age had retired.

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"I certainly knew that Louie had some age on him, but he also had a vitality about him," Poole said, recalling how just two weeks ago, Goldstein visited Western Maryland to attend a fund-raiser for him.

Washington County Commissioner Lee Downey also saw Goldstein recently, and said he had appeared well.

"I was really surprised," Downey said. "I knew him for over 40 years."

Downey's father, Charles L. Downey, had served in the state Senate with Goldstein.

Goldstein was a regular visitor to Washington County, often appearing at such events as Hagerstown's Alsatia Mummers' Parade.

"He liked to be out among the public," Downey said.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., also said she was shocked by the news. In a statement, she reminisced about a colleague she described as both a good politician and a good man.

"He was a tremendously warm and kind man who loved to laugh, yet he always stood steadfast sentry over the state purse, which helped keep Maryland's economy booming," she said.

Showing none of the fear of technology common to his generation, Goldstein kept his office updated without losing touch with Marylanders, Mikulski said.

"He brought high-tech efficiency to managing the comptroller's office but was always high-touch with his constituents, whether it was at a church supper or in a business boardroom," she said.

Rick Hemphill, chairman of Washington County's Central Democratic Committee, also mentioned Goldstein's determination to remain available to those who voted him into office.

"He would always say, 'If you have a problem, my home number is ..., and my work number is .... Call me,'" Hemphill said.

He called Goldstein "an institution," and said there was no way anyone could be active in Maryland government and not know him.

"He was a lifelong Democrat and he's one of the few people in politics that everybody liked," Hemphill said.

The 40-year comptroller was admired by political allies and adversaries alike.

Tim Mayberry of Boonsboro, the only person who had filed to challenge Goldstein in the upcoming election, canceled all public appearances and campaigning activities scheduled for the holiday weekend out of respect for his opponent.

Mayberry, a Republican, also ran against Goldstein in the general election in 1994. He lost but garnered 39 percent of the vote.

Dee Richards, a spokeswoman for Mayberry's 1998 campaign, said the candidate was looking forward to running against the spirited octogenarian and is bitterly disappointed to have only the chance of running against a last-minute candidate.

Mayberry echoed that sentiment in a statement.

"I had hoped to stand with the Comptroller on the campaign platforms of the state, debating issues and exchanging ideas in a spirit of good will," he said.

And in the event that Mayberry defeated Goldstein, he had hoped to persuade the state's longest-serving public official not to retire.

"My hope, if elected, was to see Louis Goldstein well and happy promoting our state as an ambassador of good will - making the speeches and enjoying public contact as he did in the past," he said.

Said Mikulski: "Like all Marylanders, I will miss Louis and mourn his passing," Mikulski said. "There was and will be no one like him."

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