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Former Washington County commissioner dies

Harold Lee Boyer served from 1970 to 1974

May 18, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ
  • Harold Lee Boyer, 74
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o Obituary

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Harold Lee Boyer, a former Washington County commissioner who kept his hand and mind in government years after leaving office, died Thursday at age 74.

Boyer, a Democrat, was a county commissioner from 1970 to 1974.

Later, he chaired the county's board of zoning appeals. For many years, he also chaired Smithsburg's planning and zoning appeals board.

Democratic Hagerstown Councilman William M. Breichner remembered Boyer as a "true blue" Democrat who spoke his mind.

"It was very easy to get a rise out of Harold," he said.

One issue that stood out, Breichner said, was Boyer's strong opposition to a possible auto racetrack on open land.

"You knew where he stood," said R. Lee Downey, who became a county commissioner in 1974, when Boyer lost his bid for re-election.

Downey also recalled Boyer's stance against the racetrack and said it probably led to more of a focus on land preservation.

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Around that time, the county spent $350,000 to buy more than 310 acres from Dr. Edward W. Ditto Jr., land that became Black Rock Golf Course, according to a Herald-Mail story at the time and a 2001 piece by historian Pat Schooley.

It also was during Boyer's term that the county created a zoning ordinance, Downey said.

Boyer, Breichner, Downey and other past government officials were part of a social group that met monthly for lunch.

A 1970 story about Boyer said he lost a narrow race for county commissioner in 1966.

At the time, he was an advisor to the CLEAN organization that formed "to fight pollution and encourage conservation, a duty that grew out of his conservation instruction duties at Hagerstown Junior College," the story says.

Boyer was a professor of geography and political science at the college for 32 years, retiring in 1994, his obituary says.

A Maugansville native, Boyer moved to Smithsburg, where he opened Professor Boyer's Book Bank and Emporium in 1995.

Smithsburg Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers, a Republican, said Boyer lived two doors from her and they spoke often. Despite their political party differences, they stayed friends, she said.

Boyer never lost his interest in government and remained on the town's planning board until he died, Myers said.

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