A 'true gentleman,' Poole influenced the lives of many

October 29, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Claude Ellsworth Poole, who died Oct. 18 at the age of 94. His obituary appeared in the Oct. 21 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Growing up in a double house on South Potomac Street next door to his uncle and aunt, Kevin Poole still has vivid memories of his 6th birthday.

"Pawdie and Mawdie and my cousin, Joey, hooked up a string in the house, and I followed it through all three floors and finally found my birthday bicycle at the end of the string," Kevin said.

Claude Poole, who was affectionately known as Pawdie, died Oct. 18 at the age of 94. Claude's wife of 53 years, Isabelle, who also was called Mawdie, died in 1983.


Joan Waterbury, Kevin's cousin Joey, was the couple's only daughter. She now lives in New York state.

"My parents instilled in me such a love of music, books and well-used language," Joan said by telephone from her home. "That resulted in my being a teacher, as well as being the only person I know who collects grammar books."

Growing up on South Potomac Street, Joan said some of her strongest memories of her father were when he was working at The Maryland Theatre and The Colonial, both Warner Brothers theaters in bygone days.

First an usher, then a doorman and later a manager, Claude once wore a uniform that included epaulets on the shoulders, Joan recalled.

"He was so creative, too," Joan said. Claude did promotions for big movies, including having a big gorilla on the marquee when "Mighty Joe Young" was playing, and a space theme for a big science fiction movie, she said.

A bonus of her father's job was getting into the movies free with her friends from school, Joan said.

Nephew C. Kingsley Poole said he remembers how his Uncle Claude always was "dressed to the nines," meaning he always looked his best, no matter what the occasion.

"He lived at 320 S. Potomac St., and we lived at 322," Kingsley said. "We were always back and forth between houses."

Without parents after 1964, Kingsley and his younger brother, Kevin, remained close to Claude and Isabelle as they grew into adults.

"Claude became guardian to Kevin and me," Kingsley said. Their older brother, Harry, was an adult by that time.

Kingsley described Claude and Isabelle as "classic lovers" who were devoted to each other during all of the years of their marriage.

After Isabelle died in 1983, family and close friends intervened to keep Claude's spirits up. One of those friends was Angie Gum, who worked with Claude when he was a clerk in the Circuit Court for Washington County.

"If not for Angie, Claude probably would have died earlier," Kingsley said.

Angie, who now is land records supervisor at the courthouse, said Claude took her under his wing when she started working there 30 years ago.

"We started socializing, and I kind of adopted Claude and Isabelle," Angie said. Having lost her own father when she was just 21/2 years old, Angie said Claude filled a void in her life.

Agreeing that Claude was devastated when Isabelle died, Angie said she made him part of her family, including him in her family events.

Angie's mother, Jessie Gum, said they often had Claude over for dinner, and then he would take them out to eat on occasion.

"Claude had retired to spend time with Isabelle," Angie said. "But she died nine days after he went home from the courthouse."

Throughout his life, Claude left a lasting impression on most everyone he met, not to mention the couples he married during his many years at the courthouse.

Angie used the words distinguished, polite and a true gentleman to describe Claude.

"And he had an incredible will to live," she said.

Even after his eyes failed him, Claude would continue to work crossword puzzles, with Angie reading the clues to him, and then he would fill in the spaces.

Kevin said he will miss Claude's good counsel and good company, as well as an appreciation of music and knowledge of electronics and carpentry he was eager to share.

"He taught me to measure twice and cut once," Kevin said, noting he always will remember that advice. "I'll think of him often."

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