The 1910s were busy years in Westminster. It was in this time period that Howard E. Koontz began serving as the mayor of Westminster on May 15, 1916, for 10 years until May 17, 1926.
The population of Carroll County in 1910 was 33,934. Carroll County voted to become a “dry” county in 1914. The automobile was bringing about great changes in the community. According to a history of Carroll County during the 1900s, “From Our Front Porch,” by Jim Lee, gasoline cost 13 cents per gallon in October 1911. A Model T Ford cost $295 in 1923.
According to the Historical Society of Carroll County, on May 4, 1912, just four years before Koontz took office, “Ex-President and Bull Moose Party candidate Teddy Roosevelt made a whistle-stop appearance in Westminster. … He delivered a campaign speech from the front of the American Sentinel newspaper office near the intersection of Liberty and E. Main Streets.”
Howard E. Koontz III, the grandson of Mayor Koontz, was posthumously honored with the 13th annual “Legacy Philanthropist of the Year” at the Oct. 17 awards breakfast held at Martin’s Westminster.
He was nominated for the award by his widow, Nancy Koontz, and Jim Lightner, secretary of the Westminster Rotary and McDaniel College historian. The award was presented by Lightner who gave the audience insight to the contributions to our community by four generations of the Koontz family.
“When I think of the word ‘legacy’ I think of ‘family ties,’ and that certainly applies to this year’s Legacy Award,” said Lightner.
Mayor Koontz’ son, “Howard II was born in 1907 and followed in his father’s footsteps in business and as a community leader, working with the Chamber of Commerce, the Boy Scouts of America, the Maryland Society of Crippled Children, the Richardson Foundation, Hoffman Homes for Youth, and was a member of the Board of Associates of Hood College, the board of the Carroll County Bank, and was a founding director and secretary of the Carroll County General Hospital. He was also an active Rotarian and Club president. His active civic involvement was recognized at his death in 1977.
“At his birth in 1936 Howard III, whom we recognize today certainly received the community service gene from his earlier namesakes,” explained Lightner. “He joined the family creamery business and then opened a successful Hickory Farms business in the area. He joined the Westminster Rotary Club in 1970 — as the Club’s only third-generation member — and it was primarily through the Club’s many projects that he found his community service niche …
“Four generations of the Koontz family have lived and worked in our Carroll community since the Civil War, with the Koontz Creamery being founded by Emanuel Koontz, and carried on by his son Howard I, who was born in 1869. In addition to his business acumen, he served five terms as Westminster Mayor, was director of Farmers and Merchants Bank, and was a charter member and second president of the Westminster Rotary Club. His community service and leadership were lauded at his death in 1934.”
Thanks to research by Nancy Koontz and Lightner, the obituary for Mayor Koontz was made available to the Carroll County Times. Koontz died on “Sunday morning, July 8, 1934 at Maryland University Hospital, Baltimore…. Mr. Koontz was aged 65 years…”
According to his obituary, “His father was one of the early distributors of milk in Westminster, dating back to Civil War days. As a boy … Howard assisted his father on his milk routes and more than 40 years ago [in the early 1890s] he established a creamery at Frizzellburg. … The business was successful and grew rapidly and in 1904 he established a plant in Westminster [at the corner of Liberty and Green Streets] …
“After serving several terms in the city council, in 1916 he was nominated and elected Mayor of Westminster. His administration of the city affairs was marked by economy and ability. He was an advocate of the pay as you go plan and while the only income was from the normal tax levy, much was accomplished for the welfare and progress of the city. So satisfactory was his first administration that he was re-elected four times and in 1926 he declined to accept the renomination…
“Funeral services for Mr. Koontz were held at his late home, West Main Street, Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 o’clock… Almost the entire membership of the Rotary Club attended the funeral. Burial was in Krider’s Cometary. The honorary pallbearers were the directors of the Farmer’s and Mechanics National Bank…” Funeral arrangements were made by Harvey Bankard and Son, funeral directors.