Bennett Crain, 75, Annapolis lawyer

By Jacques Kelly

Sun reporter

Originally published September 8, 2006, Baltimore Sun


Bennett Crain, an Annapolis attorney who played a key role in establishing home-rule government for Anne Arundel County, died of heart disease Sunday at Anne Arundel Medical Center. The Annapolis resident was 75.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Charles County, he was a graduate of Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va., and the University of Virginia. He received his legal education at the University of Maryland School of Law and served in the Army's Judge Advocate General Corps from 1956 to 1959.

He began his law practice in Annapolis in the late 1950s and later co-founded the firm of Hartman & Crain. He retired about 10 years ago.

"I admired how he could take the serious things in life and mix them in with the pleasures he enjoyed," said John S. Simcox, an Annapolis attorney who worked with him for a decade. "Even on a busy day in his law practice, he liked to tell a good story. He had a good way of diffusing contentious situations with humor and his engaging personality."

He had served as chair of the committee to establish home rule for the county in the mid-1960s, and was county attorney under Anne Arundel's first county executive, Joseph W. Alton Jr.

"I think of Bennett as being the father of the charter amendment," Mr. Alton said yesterday. "Bennett did the legwork and got the signatures. He was persistent."

Mr. Alton said after his own election as county executive, he put money in the budget to make Mr. Crain county attorney.

"He turned out to be a great asset to the county and went on to be a prominent lawyer," Mr. Alton said.

A sailor and owner of the yacht Landsend, he sailed more than 100,000 miles on the Chesapeake Bay and in the Atlantic, and raced from Cape Town, South Africa, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1970. He was an owner of the Annapolis Boat Shows.

He was a member of the Annapolis Yacht Club, Sailing Club of the Chesapeake, Cruising Club of America and Seven Seas Sailing Club. He was a past president of the Southern Maryland Society.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. today at St. Anne's Episcopal Church, on Church Circle in Annapolis

Survivors include his wife of two years, the former Amy DeAloia; two sons, Vincent Paul Crawford of La Jolla, Calif., and Robert Young Crain of Annapolis; two daughters, Ellen Mulry Crain Hoj of Steamboat Springs, Colo., and Elizabeth Hampton Crain of Annapolis; a sister, Hampton Crain Addis of Elverson, Pa.; and two grandchildren. His marriage to Marjorie P. Crawford ended in divorce.