Daisy Booth

Daisy Booth (Walter M. McCardell, Baltimore Sun / July 13, 2011)

Daisy Alverda "Bert" Booth, who was elected to the House of Delegates from Baltimore County and was known for her strong advocacy of civil rights, died July 2 of a stroke at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

The former Chestnut Ridge resident was 85.

The daughter of a Catonsville pharmacist and a homemaker, Daisy Alverda Stagmer was born in Baltimore and raised in Catonsville.

Mrs. Booth, who family members said never used her first name, preferred to be known as Alverda "Bert" Booth.

After graduating from Catonsville High School in 1942, she studied at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

She married David E. Booth in 1943, and after she and her husband left Baltimore for a few years of military service and college for him, they returned to a home in the Chestnut Ridge section of Baltimore County.

Mr. Booth, who was an electrical engineer at Westinghouse Electric Corp., died in 2003.

Mrs. Booth's political involvement dated to the days when she became active in a PTA protest against Baltimore County commissioners when one of her sons was in first grade.

Because of her leadership qualities and savvy, she soon found herself vice president and legislative chairman of the PTA.

In 1956, she joined the League of Women Voters, and 11 years later, was elected president of the Baltimore County chapter of the league. In 1973, she was elected president of the League of Women Voters of Maryland.

She "spearheaded civic initiatives, too. Through her league experience, she learned to build coalitions, give speeches, write brochures, manage volunteers and set up polling places," according to a profile of Mrs. Booth in "Women of Achievement in Maryland History."

During the 1960s, it was Mrs. Booth who led the battle that resulted in Baltimore County Council members' being elected by district rather than at large. To aid in that effort, she established VOICES — Voters Organized to Improve the Councilmanic Election System — which pushed for a constitutional amendment.

Mrs. Booth had served on several county and state committees, some of which included the School Board Advisory Committee on Construction and Financing, the Baltimore County Citizens for Decency, the Regional Planning Council Housing Committee and the Citizens Committee for Modernization of Maryland Courts.

She resigned the presidency of the League of Women Voters of Maryland in 1974 to run as a Republican for a seat in the House of Delegates from Baltimore County's 11th Legislative District. At that time, Mrs. Booth told The Evening Sun, "It's high time that women take a bigger part in our political life. If we're ever going to clean up the mess we're in, we have to take our government away from the professional politicians and bring it back to the people."

Mrs. Booth won the election and remained until 1982 in the House of Delegates, where she had served on the Constitutional and Administrative Law Committee and the Commission on Intergovernmental Cooperation.

She was a founder and first president in 1979 of the Maryland Association of Elected Women, and served as president of the Legislative Study Group. In 1981, she was elected president of the Women Legislators of Maryland.

Former state Sen. Julian "Jack" Lapides served with Mrs. Booth in the legislature.

"She was a magnificent delegate and was extremely liberal and intelligent," recalled Mr. Lapides.

After having been a Republican for 33 years, Mrs. Booth renounced her party affiliation in 1980 to become a Democrat and serve as Maryland chairman that year of Rep. John B. Anderson's unsuccessful independent presidential campaign.

"I was mad," she told The Baltimore Sun in an interview at the time. "The party platform no longer supported the Equal Rights Amendment, it favored a constitutional amendment against abortion, it opposed the 55-mile-an-hour speed limit, and it wanted to select judges based on their views about abortion and the family."