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Eagle Archive: Ralph Condon, 85, retired Carroll County businessman

Ralph A. Condon, a Carroll County community leader and businessman, died March 27 at age 85. He was a Navy veteran who served in World War II. He was married to Ava Rakes Condon for 65 years.

Condon was born in Taylorsville on Sept. 28, 1927. In the early 1950s, he began working as an auto mechanic at a shop way off the beaten path on a rutted-dirt road a mile or so off of Manchester Road, Route 27, near the present-day intersection with Route 482.

He subsequently founded Condon's Auto Parts in 1954. The business is currently operated by the third generation of his family.

In 1959, Manchester Road was re-aligned and rebuilt in such a manner that all of the sudden the auto recycling yard was exposed to public view. This was in the days before zoning and for several years, there were no problems.

The operation minded its own business and wasn't bothering anyone, said Condon several years ago in an interview.

But peace and tranquilly came to an end to his once upon a time out of sight business. New folks in the county began to complain, and legal problems with the county started. Never mind he was there first.

In the late 1960s, Condon decided the right thing to do was to move his business farther away from the road – out of sight of the public. That was easier said than done, though. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

By then, even more progress had come and new zoning laws and several regulatory agencies stood in the way. He was in trouble with the county whether he stayed put or tried to move. To get it all straightened-out, he hired the late distinguished attorney (and later a Carroll County judge) Donald J. Gilmore.

It took Condon from 1971 to 1974 to litigate with the county and finally prevail that he was in the right. Over the next four years he moved his business, despite a bad economy and a never-ending litany of regulatory agencies that tossed up one road block after another in new laws and conflicting regulations.

It took him until Oct. 17, 1978, to move into his new recycling yard behind 3,000 pine trees he planted.

The saga of the little guy taking on big government made Condon into a folk hero for many small businessmen in Carroll County. On Wednesday, he was laid to rest at Pipe Creek Cemetery. No word yet as to whether or not the county granted the family the proper permits to bury him. (Yes, that is a bit of sarcasm.)

When he not re-reading the story of David and Goliath, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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