Kingdon Gould Jr., former ambassador and astute parking lot investor, dies at 94

Kingdon Gould Jr., who expanded a family fortune by astutely investing in Washington and Baltimore properties, and also served as an ambassador to The Netherlands and Luxembourg, died Tuesday of complications from pneumonia at his North Laurel home. He was 94.

Mr. Gould bought real estate — including parking lots in downtown Washington and Baltimore — and became a developer. He was active in Republican political circles and helped found the Glenelg Country School in Howard County. A horseman, he captured the 1962 My Lady’s Manor point-to-point race as he rode Hurdy Gurdy, a 9-year-old hunter.

Born in New York City in 1924, he was the son of Kingdon Gould, a mining engineer and financier, and Annunziata Lucci. His given name, Kingdon, derived from Edith Kingdon, his grandmother.

He was the great-grandson of Jay Gould, the railroad builder and business tycoon.

When asked in 2014 by a Howard County Times reporter what he had learned from his great-grandfather’s life, Mr. Gould said: “So-called financial success is relatively short-lived, and depending on the quality of the people that inherited it, it can all evaporate.”

As a child he lived in a triplex apartment of 20 rooms and eight baths in Manhattan. He attended the Millbrook School and went off to Yale University to major in English literature.

“I was at Yale for just two months. In the spring of 1942, I volunteered for the armed services,” he said in the Howard County Times interview. “The war was going badly in Africa and in the Pacific, and it didn’t seem to me particularly relevant to be going to college at that time.”

He served in the 36th Mechanized Calvary and landed in France in June 1944 after the Normandy beaches had been secured. He was awarded two Silver Stars with oak leaf cluster and the Purple Heart, also with cluster. He received a battlefield commission as a second lieutenant and served in the Ardennes and Rhine campaigns.

In 1946, he married Mary Bunce Thorne. He returned to complete his courses at Yale, from which he received a bachelor’s degree and a law degree.

He moved to a home in North Laurel called Overlook, built in 1911, where he raised his nine children. The home had been constructed by Sen. Arthur Pue Gorman for his daughter, Daisy.

He practiced law in the District of Columbia and in Maryland. In the 1950s, he and a partner, Dominic “Nick” Antonelli, started buying properties, often parking lots, which they managed under the name Parking Management Inc. In 1966, according to a Washington Post article, the pair owned 90 lots with space for 10,000 cars. Newspaper headline writers referred to Mr. Gould as the District of Columbia’s “parking baron.”

In 1966, he and a group of partners bought the Park Plaza property at Madison and Charles streets for $179,000. He later sold Park Plaza, which was once the home of The Baltimore Sun’s founder, A.S. Abell.

In 1984, Mr. Gould paid $1.22 million for a half-acre surface parking lot at the southwest corner of Charles and Read streets in Mount Vernon. Over the years, he discussed building on the site, and released a set of renderings, but did not follow through with construction. He also owned a parking lot at Charles and Eager streets.

Mr. Gould, who in 1962 was named chair of the Maryland Republican Finance Committee, was a major contributor to the GOP. In a 1975 article, The Economist magazine noted that Mr. Gould and his wife had donated $102,000 to President Richard M. Nixon’s re-election fund in 1972.

He was named ambassador to Luxembourg and served from 1969 to 1972. He was ambassador to the Netherlands from 1973 to 1976.

“When President Nixon resigned, the chief justice of the United States, Warren Berger, was our house guest in The Hague,” Mr. Gould recalled in the 2014 interview.

“On a Friday night, Nixon gave his farewell speech. The word came from Washington: The chief justice has to swear in the vice president tomorrow at noon. With the time differential, all the commercial planes had left. It was decided Air Force One would come to The Hague.”

He said Justice Burger told him,“Do you understand the irony, Kingdon? That man appointed me to the highest office, and I wrote the opinion [that forced Nixon to turn over the Watergate tapes and papers as evidence in the trial of presidential aides accused of covering up the scandal].”

Mr. Gould said Chief Justice Burger went back to bed and was up at 3 a.m. to board Air Force One. “Mrs. Berger and the chief justice go up the steps, and all of us at the embassy give each other high fives, because we got him to the plane in time. It was a moment in history. The chief justice returned to The Hague the next day to continue his vacation.”

Mr. Gould and his sons went on to plan a community named Konterra, 600 acres on each side of Interstate 95 at the intersection with the Intercounty Connector in Beltsville.

Mr. Gould was also a founder, with other parents, of the Glenelg Country School in Howard County.

“It seemed to me there was an opportunity to start one here in Howard County. … One day, I was driving down a road with beautiful trees. ‘Where does this go?’ I asked myself,” he said in the 2014 Howard County Times interview. :I saw this beautiful place. We started the school with 36 children in six grades. Now we have 750 in 12 grades.”

Gregory J. Ventre, Glenelg’s head of school. said, “Next to his family, he said the school was the closest thing to his heart. Without his vision, passion and generosity, there would not be a school. ... We try to keep the vision and ideals that he instilled in our school alive every day.”

Mr. Gould was also an accomplished rider who competed in Maryland’s point-to-point races.

No funeral is planned.

Survivors include his wife of 72 years; four sons, Kingdon Gould III of Laurel, Thorne Gould of Baltimore, Frank Gould of Sun Valley, Utah, and Caleb Gould of Laurel; five daughters, Lydia Barbieri of Pisa, Italy, Candida Lancaster of Monkton, Melissa Gould of Cortez, Colo., Annuniziata Guild of Bend, Ore., and Thalia Pryor of Telluride, Colo.; 28 grandchildren; and many great-grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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