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Haines Felter, engineer and avid bridge player


Haines Felter was a Shakespeare-quoting, highway-building, stamp-collecting man who liked to keep score as much as he liked to play.

His game was bridge and over the past half-century, Mr. Felter punctiliously logged thousands of statistics on the performances of himself, his partners and his opponents.

For example, from 1947 to 1987, he played 4,497 games of bridge, including 20,798 "double rubbers" of which Mr. Felter won 11,752.

The entries came to an end July 5, when Mr. Felter died of congestive heart failure -- which he derided as "the dwindles" -- at Broadmead Lifetime Care Center. He was 86.

"I have 10 volumes of bridge scores from the mid-1940s until Dad died," said his son, J. E. B. Felter of Baltimore. "I doubt there's any use for them now unless there's some bridge museum that would like them. He even kept scores on how people did with different partners and kept a record of unusual hands."

Haines B. Felter began his career as a highway engineer with the State Roads Commission in 1938. As highways slowly commanded more and more of the local landscape, it was Mr. Felter's job to acquire the land as a right-of-way engineer.

Born in Washington in 1908, he moved with his family four years later to a once pastoral parcel of West Baltimore his parents christened "The Little Orchard."

"His father worked for the U.S. Mail and his mother always answered the phone with a song," Mr. Felter said. "It was the kind of house where an artist friend once came for dinner and wound up staying seven years. Because of his quick wit and the way he was raised, my father made friends very easily."

A good tennis player in his youth, Mr. Felter attended Friends School when it was located on Park Avenue in the 1920s, and graduated from the University of Maryland in 1934.

He married the former Murtha Ida Brown in 1936, and the couple raised four children on Hillsdale Road in Forest Park. Mrs. Felter died last Thanksgiving.

"I don't ever remember him doing anything in an unkind way, even when he admonished me as a child," said Charles "Dubby" Mallonee, Mr. Felter's nephew. "His favorite Shakespeare quote was 'To thine own self be true' from Hamlet. And he always seemed to know what was the right thing to do and then he went ahead and did it."

In 1972, Mr. Felter moved to the Versailles apartments in Towson, and in 1979 he entered Broadmead, bringing an infectious love of bridge with him. Anyone expressing an interest, whether they knew how to play or not, was invited to Mr. Felter's regular Friday night game.

"I never went over to visit him when he didn't stop what he was doing, get out his cards and start some sort of game," said Mr. Mallonee. Mr. Felter also enjoyed stamp collecting, especially those illustrated with birds. By the time he began selling it off in the early 1970s, the collection was valued at more than $20,000.

Mr. Felter is also survived by two daughters, Meredith B. Felter and Catherine P. Felter, both of Baltimore; and a second son, David H. Felter of Media, Pa.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Stony Run Friends Meeting, 5116 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21210.

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