Remembering former Harford Sheriff Ted Moyer

When he first came to Harford County in 1951, a new Maryland State Police trooper recently graduated from the State Police Academy, Theodore S. Moyer bunked at what was then known as the Benson Barrack at Routes 1 and 147 just west of Bel Air.

That's what young unmarried troopers did in those days, and the police life seemed to immediately suit the young Hagerstown native, who soon put down roots in Harford County and went on to complete a distinguished career with the state police before serving as Harford County Sheriff for almost six years.

Sheriff Moyer died at his Edgewood home on the evening of Sept. 17. He was 83 and leaves behind a legacy of service to his community that, besides his law enforcement career, included some five decades as a youth athletics coach in the county and a forceful advocate for local parks and recreation programs.

Sheriff Moyer was also known as a friend and mentor to hundreds of young people during his life, particularly in the Edgewood community. Many of those he mentored went on to their own careers in law enforcement in both local and state police agencies, a family member said.

A celebration of Sheriff Moyer's life will be held Saturday, starting with a memorial service at Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, beginning at 11 a.m. The family will receive friends prior to the service beginning at 10 a.m. Following the service, there will be a reception at the Richlin Ballroom in Edgewood.

"It will be a short service, which is what my father wanted," Steve Moyer, one of Sheriff Moyer's three sons, said Wednesday. "He wasn't somebody who wanted a lot of attention. We welcome anyone at the reception where we will have, in my father's words 'beverages and food.' We will have the room set up, so anyone who wishes will be able to get up and tell a Ted Moyer story."

Steve Moyer said the memorial service will be supported by the Maryland State Police and the Harford County Sheriff's Office.

"We lost a great man in Sheriff Moyer," Harford County Sheriff Jesse Bane said in a statement issued earlier this week. "History will remember him for his contributions to the State of Maryland as a member of the Maryland State Police and for his contributions to Harford County as sheriff. Those who knew him on a more personal level will remember him for his devotion to his family and for his devotion to our youth. We wish him God's speed. He will surely be missed by all who knew him."

Among the five Harford County sheriffs who have served since Sheriff Moyer left office in November 1986, five served under him with the sheriff's office: Bane, Thomas Golding, Robert Comes and Dominick Mele, and the fifth, Joseph Meadows, was coached by him in youth football. Havre de Grace Chief of Police Teresa Walter also served in the sheriff's office under Sheriff Moyer.

During his service with the sheriff's office, Sheriff Moyer was successful at making improvements to the deputies' pension system, instituting a take-home car policy for road deputies and expanding profession training for the deputies.

Johnny Hughes, current U.S. Marshal for Maryland and a friend and former state police colleague, said Sheriff Moyer "was such a good guy and a mentor to me."

"Ted was actually the reason why I joined the State Police," Hughes said Thursday. "I was always impressed by the way he did so much for others. He was angelic, almost Christ-like in the way he reached out to help people in Edgewood and other communities in that part of the county. He was involved in all the schools and charity basketball games. He would buy food and toys for some of the poorer families at Christmas. He was always helping others.

Hughes served 29 years in the state police before joining the U.S. Marshal's Service, followed by a stint with the Office of National Drug Control Police before being appointed to his current post by then-President George W. Bush. He said Sheriff Moyer was a lieutenant at the Bel Air Barrack when Hughes first joined the state police. He last saw his friend the day before Sheriff Moyer died, when Hughes, Steve Moyer and Sheriff Moyer passed his state police badge from hand-to-hand before giving it to Sheriff Moyer's grandson and Steve's son, Drew.

"You just can't say enough good things about Ted," Hughes added. "He was somebody you thought of like you would of your father or your grandfather."

Bob Thomas, spokesman for Harford County government, had an association with Sheriff Moyer that went back nearly four decades to the time when Thomas was a deputy state fire marshal and Sheriff Moyer was serving with the state police, from which he retired at the rank of major after commanding several local barracks (including Bel Air) and also serving as a troop commander.

"Ted Moyer was a quiet, positive leader who was well liked by everyone and a tremendous police officer," said Thomas, who visited Sheriff Moyer shortly before his death and presented him with a Harford County pin on behalf of County Executive David Craig. "He really was one of the earliest supporters of the Edgewood community and a mentor to so many young people there."

Todd Holden, who was a reporter/photographer for The Aegis in the late 1960s and early 1970s when Sheriff Moyer was with the state police, said Sheriff Moyer was an excellent photographer and the two engaged in some friendly competitions at accident scenes and other incidents.

"You could never meet a nicer guy," Holden said earlier this week. "As a photographer, there were times I just couldn't believe the quality photos he got with his Brownie Hawkeye camera. I mean, he would do his police thing first, but then he'd get out that camera and get those great photos. Just a tremendous guy."

Steve Moyer later said his father still had that old Kodak camera and that he got it out and showed it to his dad during Sheriff Moyer's final days.

Sheriff Moyer met his wife, the former Elaine Tucker, when she was working for her father's International Harvester business on Baltimore Pike in Bel Air and her future husband was working out of the local State Police Barrack.

"Her father's business did towing for state police from accident scenes, and that's how they met," said Steve Moyer, who followed his father into the state police, where the younger Moyer had a distinguished career of his own. In addition to his wife and Steve, Sheriff Moyer is survived by his sons, David and Michael, and four grandchildren.

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