Six seek seats on Orphans' Court

October 25, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

While the race for Judges of the Orphans' Court of Washington County may seem like a minor skirmish in a larger campaign, the candidates wish voters would look at it differently.

J. William "Bill" Lightner, a Republican, is a 74-year-old former sports official and referee.

"I have a sincere interest in this job and will bring leadership, management skills and a willingness to learn," Lightner said. And he has the time to commit to the job.

Lightner said that although he is a novice in politics, he is eager to learn what the job entails.

Having settled two estates for family members, he said he found it to be a very interesting process.

A retired salesman, Lightner and his wife, Etta Belle, live at 1006 Potomac Ave., Hagerstown. They have no children.

Eileen Wiggins, 73, and a Democrat, said she believes her energy and commitment would be pluses in the office.


"Having eight years of court experience, I feel qualified to hold this position," Wiggins said. "I am committed to the people of Washington County."

A Hagerstown native, Wiggins was a clerk in Washington County District Court for five years. She was then a District Court commissioner for three years, setting bonds for people charged with crimes.

Wiggins also worked in the Maryland Division of Correction Junction Bridge program for two years. The program helped addicted inmates get treatment when they returned to society.

She also was employed with the Maryland Employees Credit Union before she retired.

Wiggins, of 18534 Kent Ave., ran unsuccessfully for orphans' court in 1990 and 1994.

Republican Harry Harsh has filed for a second term as a judge of the Orphans' Court.

Harsh, 59, is home instructor for the Washington County Board of Education.

He was a Hagerstown City Police officer from 1963 to 1975, retiring as a detective with the rank of lieutenant. Before that, Harsh was a military police officer in the U.S. Army.

A member of the American Legion, Harsh is affiliated with AMVETS, Elks, North American Rod and Gun Club and the Vietnam Last Man's Club.

A lifelong county resident, Harsh and his wife, Angie, have four children and two grandchildren.

"I wish to continue the work of this position," Harsh said. For the past four years, he has received training which he believes qualifies him to serve another term.

Roy A. Keefauver, 68, and a Democrat, said he believes he did a good job when he served as a judge from 1989 through 1994, the year he narrowly lost the election.

Originally appointed to fill out the term of the late William Giffin, Keefauver attended a number of seminars provided by the State of Maryland so he could familiarize himself with the work.

"With this knowledge, I will be qualified to be a judge," he said.

A lifelong county resident, Keefauver retired in the early 1990s after owning and operating Keefauver Dry Cleaners on Potomac Avenue for more than 30 years.

"I truly enjoyed my previous years as a judge," Keefauver said, adding that he is looking forward to being a judge again.

Democrat Linda Fox, 56, of Williamsport was the top vote-getter in 1994. She is a 1960 graduate of Williamsport High School and a 1962 graduate of Hagerstown Junior College.

A bookkeeper for most of her career, Fox is employed by Leon Catlett.

Fox said she would like to have another term on the Orphans' Court so she can continue to serve the citizens of Washington County.

She said she has spent a lot of time during the past four years studying estates and trusts. "I've been keeping up to date on legislative changes and wish to put this knowledge into practice in the next four years," Fox said.

John M. Shriver, 48, is seeking re-election to a second four-year stint on the court.

"I was elected four years ago and have attended a number of seminars," Shriver said. "I've learned a lot and want to continue putting that knowledge to work for the next four years."

During his first term, Shriver became a member of the Maryland Association of Judges of the Orphans' Courts.

Shriver served on the Washington County Republican Central Committee from 1982-1994 and was vice-chairman from 1986-1994.

In 1976, Shriver ran as a delegate candidate to the GOP convention as a Ronald Reagan supporter.

He was a member of former Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel's youth advisory council and served on Maryland's Young Republican State Board for two terms.

A driver education instructor for Widmyer Driving School, Shriver and his wife, Joyce, have two children, Michael and Jacqueline, and live in Williamsport.

The three judges of the Orphans' Court meet 10 times a month in the Washington County Courthouse. They settle contested wills, approve the appointment of personal representatives and set commissions for attorneys in the probate of wills.

In addition, the Orphans' Court judges oversee guardianships of minors who receive property from an estate. To ensure that property is safeguarded, the court appoints a guardian to report to the court once a year.

The job pays $6,000 a year.

All six candidates are vying for the three seats in the Nov. 3 election.

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