50 years ago: A week on the job, Sheriff Stearns found dead in his home

As taken from the pages of The Aegis dated Thursday, April 4, 1963:

Paul Stearns, who was just sworn in as the new sheriff of Harford County 50 years ago last week, was found dead in his home. The 61-year-old veteran police officer was overcome by the pressures of his new job and ended his own life. He was found dead with a pistol in his hand. Mr. Stearns had been appointed to fill the unexpired three and one-half year term of former Sheriff Raymond Fulker, who died suddenly on March 22 after serving as sheriff since 1947. Sheriff Stearns left his office around 1 p.m. to go to his residence on Broadway where he lived with his sister. Chief Deputy William Kunkle and Deputy Aubrey Harkins became concerned over Stearn's absence and around 4:30 p.m. went to the house and discovered his body.

A new traffic fatality sign was erected in front of the Maryland State Police Benson Barrack on Route 1. The sign was placed there to bring the state's traffic fatality story to the attention of the community. The 1963 count for the state was increased to 12 just this past week with the death of a 7-year-old Aberdeen boy hit by a car.

The rezoning request of the Hanover-Baltimore Corporation to erect a shopping center on the Emmorton Road Durham Farm property was denied by County Commissioner John H. O'Neill. This particular shopping center site had been the subject of a long and lengthy legal dispute for several years.

A significant deposit of blue-gray clay was discovered in a Stancill's Inc. gravel pit on Route 40. The rare deposit had many useful purposes and had attracted considerable outside interest. The Delaware Brick Company of Wilmington hauled a large load to its plant to make some experimental bricks. Core drilling continued to determine the depth of the deposit. An analysis of samples of the clay discovered its "excellent working properties" for high quality brick, tile, chimney flue, pottery and art ware.

A May 2 date was selected as the first annual town-wide Bel Air Clean-Up, Paint-Up, Fix-Up campaign, which sponsors hoped would win Bel Air one of the three National Clean-Up awards.

A population study done by the Department of Commerce recently revealed that 3.8 local residents were born in Harford County for every one person who died in the last decade. The figures revealed there were 18,065 live births and 4,730 deaths in the 10 years. This referred to local residents only and excluded non-residents who were born or who died in the county. According to these figures, it appeared that the large family era was at an end. The desire to have more than one or two children seemed to be diminishing.

After much controversy in recent weeks, the Churchville Post Office would be kept open. Rep. Clarence D. Long said the decision to keep the Churchville Post office open "shows what good can be accomplished by solid community support."

Workmen engaged in wrecking the former sheriff's residence on Main Street found a number of interesting old county newspapers. A copy of The Aegis and Intelligencer dated Sept. 11, 1885 and the Bel Air Times dated Dec. 18, 1885 were unearthed.

Preparations for the 1963 Miss Harford County Pageant Committee got under way with its six-week campaign of activities. The objective of the Miss Harford County Pageant was to select a talented and attractive Harford County girl to compete in the Miss Maryland and possibly, Miss America Pageants. The pageant would take place in May at the Aberdeen High auditorium and would be preceded by a parade of the entries in the morning.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad