Attorney Bennett Crain dies at 75
Was key in change to charter government
By MARY P.
FELTER, Community News Editor
Bennett Crain, a founding partner in one of the area's most prestigious
law firms and a man who helped spearhead the county's change to charter
government, died Sunday at Anne Arundel Medical Center after a brief
illness. He was 75.
Mr. Crain and Ed Hartman founded what was perhaps the
county's best known and most respected law firm in the 1960s. Hartman
and Crain broke apart in a contentious battle in the 1980s, with the
firm formally dissolved in 1994.
Mr. Crain continued to practice law with Simcox and
Barclay. He also operated a real estate title business run by his old
firm, Old Bay Title and Escrow Co. At the time he said, "It's not
retirement. I'm just slowing down a little."
The law firm Hartman and Crain was instrumental in
bringing charter government to Anne Arundel County, with Joseph W.
Alton Jr. elected as the first county executive in 1965.
Mr. Crain served as the reporter for the first
Charter Board, which wrote the county's rule book in 1964. One of the
board's main concerns was keeping the executive and legislative
branches in check, he said.
Members were concerned about making the county
executive "a dictator," he said in an article in The Capital in
July 2001. Yet if they gave too much power to the County Council, the
government would too closely resemble the old commissioner form they
sought to replace.
Back then, eight commissioners were responsible for
a broad range of executive and administrative functions, including
maintaining county roads, enforcing building codes, levying taxes and
appointing employees. Because of uncontrolled growth and a disorganized
governmental system, the county often was described as a "banana
"Bennett was a young fellow who worked very hard,
who was persistent in getting signatures to get charter government,
even when he was ignored," said Mr. Alton, who appointed him the first
county attorney. "He worked tirelessly."
Interested in sailing and former owner of the Horn
Point Marina, Mr. Crain joined with Mr. Hartman to become partners with
Jerry Wood of the Annapolis Boat Shows in 1977.
After Mr. Wood's death in 2003 and his widow,
Kathryn Wood's passing in 2005, Mr. Crain became chairman of the board
of the shows with Mr. Hartman as president.
Mr. Crain sailed more than 100,000 miles on the
Chesapeake Bay, in the Bahamas, Florida and New England and along the
Atlantic Coast. He raced in the first Cape Town to Rio race in 1970.
He was a member of the Annapolis Yacht Club, the
Sailing Club of the Chesapeake, the Cruising Club of America and the
Seven Seas Sailing Club. He sailed aboard LANDSEND.
Born in Baltimore on Oct. 1, 1930, to William George
Bennett Crain and the former Helen Hampton Young, Mr. Crain graduated
from Episcopal High School and received his bachelor of arts degree
from the University of Virginia. He obtained his law degree from the
University of Maryland Law School.
From 1956 to 1959, he was a first lieutenant in the
Army Judge Advocate General Corps. He was a member of the Maryland
Constitutional Convention Committee and chairman of the Anne Arundel
Mr. Crain was a member of the National Association
of Civil Attorneys and the American, Maryland and Anne Arundel Bar
associations, serving on various committees. He also was an officer of
the Maryland County Civil Attorneys, a branch of the Maryland County
Commissioners Association. He served as chairman of the county mental
In earlier years he was named Young Man of the Year
by the Glen Burnie Jaycees and then received the same honor from the
Maryland State Junior Chamber of Commerce. In 1963, he was named
Citizen of the Year by the Citizens Committee for Anne Arundel County.
Mr. Crain was president of the Southern Maryland
Society, belonged to St. Anne's Episcopal Church and was a former
member of the Annapolis Rotary Club. He served on the Citizens Planning
and Housing Committee for the City of Annapolis.
Surviving are his wife, Amy DeAolia Crain; four
children, Vincent Paul Crawford of La Jolla, Calif., Robert Young Crain
of Annapolis, Ellen Mulry Crain Hoj of Steamboat Springs, Colo., and
Elizabeth Hampton Crain of Annapolis; two grandchildren; and a sister,
Hampton Crain Addis of Elverson, Pa.
His marriage to Marjorie Piga Crawford Crain ended
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at
St. Anne's Episcopal Church on Church Circle. Burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the
Hugh Hampton Young Memorial Library at Johns Hopkins University, in
care of Development Office, 1 Charles Center, 100 N. Charles St., Suite
400, Baltimore, MD 21201.
- No Jumps-
Published September 06, 2006, The Capital,
Copyright © 2006 The Capital, Annapolis, Md.