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Howard Kaylor is The Herald-Mail 2011 Person of the Year

January 01, 2012

Sometimes it takes a little glass to create a window of recognition.

Howard S. Kaylor has never sought the spotlight, content instead to, along with his wife, Anne, quietly spread a legacy of care and support throughout the community. His generosity has touched all demographics and social strata, from the symphony to The Salvation Army.

This year, however, his latest contribution — $1 million toward a fine glass atrium spanning the courtyard of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts — was hard to overlook.

For this beautiful gift to the community, and for a lifetime spent improving all aspects of our community, Kaylor has been named The Herald-Mail’s 2011 Person of the Year.

The award comes with a $1,000 contribution from the paper to the charity of Kaylor’s choice, his selection being the Washington County Parent-Child Center.

The community of late has entertained an ongoing discussion of how we can improve our lot. This is altogether fitting, but for a moment we might take the time to appreciate what we already have, as we salute one particular person who has shepherded these gems along through the years.

As a boy, Kaylor was involved in the arts museum almost before the mortar had hardened, sketching likenesses of the paintings that adorned its walls.

This might be suggestive of the power of the arts, as Kaylor went on to enjoy a wide and eclectic stable of interests from astronomy to antique cars. He helped found the Maryland Symphony Orchestra and is a patron of The Maryland Theatre, yet understands and provides for the desperate needs of agencies that are in the trenches, such as the Community Free Clinic and Boys and Girls Club.

In one of 19 letters of nomination for the award, one of Kaylor’s fans wrote that “the wisdom he imparted and the sense of devotion to this community which he felt and continues to feel is a lesson which should be shared with all.”

This is quite true. Our nation has become more transient and less rooted, more electronic, less flesh-and-blood. Along with Kaylor’s financial gifts, it’s important to recognize the “devotion to this community” that is behind it.

Kaylor’s unspoken message is that we become active participants. His career as a stockbroker has allowed him to contribute financially, but all of us can honor this legacy by attending a symphony concert or strolling the halls of the arts museum. Kaylor reminds us that these are treasures we have in hand, just waiting for us to enjoy.

Kaylor, a nominee wrote, has “given in a manner that is both inspiring and daunting.” Inspiring yes, but daunting only if we fail to help carry the torch. Daunting only in the sense that he has given us such a lengthy buffet table from which to choose.

We thank Kaylor for supporting our community both financially and spiritually. Those who do not seek recognition are no less worthy of it — in fact, they might be more so. So it is with honor and with warmth that we extend the gratitude of The Herald-Mail and the community at large.

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