The Lansdowne Business and Professional Association has named Catonsville resident Wayne McDowell its interim president following the death on Jan. 1 of Charles E. Kountz, Jr., 67, who had led the organization for many years.
"Due to the passing of Charlie Kountz, the LBPA is fortunate to have Wayne McDowell step up and take on the role as president," said Alice Larrimore of Machado Construction, the secretary of the local business group..
Larrimore, Kountz and Jackie Jones, as well as himself, were all very involved in the leadership of the organization, McDowell said.
McDowell, owner of the Lansdowne business McDowell's Complete Chimney Sweep on Hammonds Ferry Road since 1978, was the organization's vice president at the time of Kountz's passing.
As president of the organization, he said his priority will be to reinvigorate business in the Lansdowne area and get commercial business more involved in the community.
McDowell, 65, is a retired Baltimore City fire officer, and also an associate at Viridian Electric Energy. He described himself as an extremely active person who likes to be involved in his community.
"I like to joke that I had ADD before they diagnosed people with it," said the former fire lieutenant, who served as an Army medic in the early 1970s and is a Vietnam war veteran.
McDowell knows how to keep himself busy. He is a member of a number of business organizations in the area, including the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce to the Arbutus Business and Professional Association as well as the LBPA. He also serves on the board of trustees at The Community College of Baltimore County where he earned two associate degrees, in general studies and fire service technology.
When he's not busy running his business or being an active member of the community, he enjoys playing board games with his wife of 41 years, Colleen McDowell, the head of the English department at Mount de Sales Academy. The couple have two daughters, Krista Jackson, 39, and Ashley Krause, 30. The newest addition to the family is 7-month-old grandson, Nathan Krause.
As he eats his chicken soup for lunch at Spirits West Country Club on Wilkens Avenue, just down the block from the street where he grew up, he can barely swallow a spoonful without being interrupted by familiar faces coming over to shake his hand as they stop in for lunch.
He was born in St. Agnes Hospital, a few blocks west on Wilkens Avenue and notes that he has never strayed far from the neighborhood where he grew up.
McDowell said he's taking on the role as president of the LBPA because his chimney sweep business can practically run itself at this point. But he is unsure how long he'll be able to continue to take on the time consuming role.
"I'm playing it by ear as the time goes on," he said.
Last year, McDowell underwent open heart surgery, which forced him to slow down, he said.
"I learned to schedule my life differently," McDowell said.
McDowell describes himself as someone who wears his heart on his sleeve.
He said he's a political centrist who used to register as a Democrat but now considers himself an independent.
"With the passing of Charlie Kountz, you won't find a better guy to lead the [LBPA]," said Del. Steve DeBoy, McDowell's longtime friend.
Both men are members of St. Augustine Catholic Church.
"He's very committed to the community," DeBoy said.