Leon Leroy Lineburg, longtime owner of Leon's Triple L Restaurant in Arbutus and the first president of the Arbutus Business and Professional Association (ABPA), died April 26 of natural causes at his home in Arbutus. He was 82.
Lineburg, known by many area residents as the unofficial "mayor" of Arbutus, opened Leon's restaurant in 1959.
"It's the center of Arbutus and a staple as far as many of us are concerned," said George Kendrick, a longtime Arbutus resident.
Kendrick, who knew Lineburg since the 1950's, said he was the "kindest man I've ever known.
"I've never heard him utter an unkind word to anybody," Kendrick said. "He was a fine man, a good citizen and someone a young fella should model himself after."
First District Councilman Tom Quirk echoed Kendrick, saying, "Leon, as a man, was incredibly well respected and well liked in Arbutus.
"Leon's restaurant is an institution. Everyone associates Arbutus with Leon's," Quirk said. "He'll be missed by the entire community."
Lineburg was born to Harry and Edith Lineburg in 1931.
He attended Catonsville High School, but never finished, dropping out to work as a carpenter. He served in the Army from 1951 to 1954, and is a veteran of the Korean War.
In 1959, he opened Leon's Triple L Restaurant with his wife, Ethel.
The couple, who recently celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary, raised their son, Loren, in Arbutus.
"I think I can count on my two hands the number of times my father has left the area," Loren Lineburg said.
Loren Lineburg said his father loved the area where he grew up. He is known by many residents as a strong supporter of Arbutus.
"He's always been so community oriented. He was always interested in what was best for Arbutus," said Sue Miller, a Catonsville resident who organizes the Arbutus Arts Festival.
Miller recalled how Lineburg would often say, " 'Hey, young man." or 'Hey, young lady.' to those, even if he was familiar with them."
"Everybody loved him. He was a big part of Arbutus and it's a big loss," Miller said.
Lineburg donated money and offered his restaurant as a meeting space for a number of local groups and causes.
He was an avid supporter of former Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr.'s run for governor in 2002.
"He was so generous and good to us when Bobby ran for office," said Nancy Ehrlich, Bob Ehrlich Jr.'s mother.
Nancy Ehrlich, who attended Catonsville High School with Lineburg, recalled his support of Arbutus' Fourth of July Parade, which she organized for a few years.
"He was always generous and the first to ask us how much we'd need," Nancy Ehrlich said.
That support also extended to opening his restaurant on the holiday for a few hours after the parade's end for members of some of the groups that had marched down East Drive. The Washington Scottish Pipe Band, a participant in the Arbutus parade for more than 30 years, made stopping at Lineburg's restaurant a tradition.
Nancy Ehrlich said Lineburg's generosity wasn't limited to donations. He also prepared and delivered meals to elderly residents who are unable to prepare meals themselves, she said.
Bob Ehrlich Jr. said he had known Lineburg since he was a child. "He was very close to my family. He's a great guy and he'll be sorely missed," he said.
Although he doesn't recall his father being very interested in politics, he was excited to support the Ehrlich campaign, Loren Lineburg said.
Ehrlich was elected Maryland governor in 2002, becoming the state's first Republican governor in 36 years.
Many recall Lineburg's passionate personality.
"He was a good soul with a good sense of humor," Nancy Ehrlich said.
Miller, who has known him for years, said she appreciated his dry sense of humor.
"He was always funny," Miller said. "His sense of humor was always there, even as he got older."
A businessman, Lineburg was a member of the ABPA since the group was founded over 30 years ago.
"[Lineburg] was one of the most stand up, honest people I've ever met. He had a heart of gold and he acted on his good instincts," said Terry Nolan, president of the ABPA, who has known Lineburg for 10 years.
He was part of a group that decided to start the Arbutus Arts Festival and always enjoyed watching the festival, Loren Lineburg said.
"Leon's circle of friends have all passed away," Arbutus attorney Salvatore "Manny" Anello said. "With Leon gone, it's like the passing of a generation."
A memorial service will be held at the Ambrose Funeral Home of Arbutus at 1328 Sulphur Spring Road on Wednesday, April 30, at 10 a.m.
The family asks that donations are made to Southwest Emergency Services (SWES, an Arbutus nonprofit).
In addition to his wife and son, Lineburg is survived by his daughter-in-law, Karen Lineburg; two grandsons, Logan, 14, and Layton, 12; family and friends.