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Kline reflects on changes during years as mayor

June 12, 2007|by MARLO BARNHART

FUNKSTOWN - As mayor of Funkstown since 1980, Robert L. Kline doesn't miss very many monthly meetings.

But he missed Monday night's meeting because he's been laid up from a recent fall in the garage of his Green Street home. And he doesn't like it.

Kline and his wife, Reatha, enjoy eating out a couple of times a week and that hasn't been possible since his fall. Both are looking forward to resuming that when he is mobile again.

And of course there is town business he would like to take care of, and will as soon as he is able.

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On June 16, the couple will have been married 57 years.

"We met at a roller rink and have been close ever since," Kline said.

A child died in 1954 and two survived.

Robert L. "Bobby" Kline II works at Fort Detrick, while daughter, Cathy Wynkoop, is a secretary. They also have five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Now 77, Kline said he began his professional life as a carpenter. He later parlayed those talents into a career, teaching carpentry at the former Washington County Career Studies Center on West Oak Ridge Drive.

"I retired from teaching in 1995, but I didn't retire from being mayor," Kline said. He was sitting at a dining room table he built many years ago.

Born and raised in Funkstown, Kline graduated from Hagerstown High School. He earned his teaching degree at the University of Maryland.

"I love to help people and the people here in Funkstown are so nice," Kline said.

As a youth, Kline said he and his three brothers used to ride around Funkstown in their daddy's truck, picking up tin cans. For this, the town paid them $35 a month.

"Dad gave us each $5 and he kept the rest for the truck," Kline said. "Then we would haul them to the old dump."

He remembers joining the Funkstown Town Council for a two-year term, having been asked if he would serve.

Kline then ran for mayor and was first elected in 1980. He has been elected to that four-year term in every election since.

"I usually stop in early each morning to the Town Hall," Kline said.

The town has grown to a population of 983, Kline said. Many things in the town have changed, some for the better but some not.

"Kids have changed a lot," Kline said. For that and other reasons, the town has contracted with the Washington County Sheriff's Department for an average of 10 hours of police coverage a week for a fee of $15,000 a year.

Another big change is the big-ticket improvements that a town the size of Funkstown now has to contend with, such as the upgrading of the town lagoons.

"That's a $2.5 million project," Kline said of the ongoing efforts. "It's the people's money and you have to keep them happy."

Kline pointed out that he and council members are sensitive to the fact that about two-thirds of the town residents are on fixed incomes and that hurts.

The Town of Funkstown meets the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Funkstown Town Hall. For more information, call 301-791-0948.

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