Godfrey Larry Stancill, 83, founded sand, gravel business


Godfrey Larry "G.L." Stancill, who began a sand-and-gravel business out of a bushelbasket and donated his services to build a Havre de Grace sports complex that bears his name, died Friday of heart failure at his home near Joppa. He was 83.

Mr. Stancill was president of his company, Stancill's Inc., until the mid-1980s and still tended some real estate, said a son, Larry G. Stancill of Joppa. Several sons run the business, which has offices in Bel Air and its primary pit in Perryville.

Born in Tarboro, N.C., Mr. Stancill left grade school to chop cotton and pick tobacco. In 1930, he and a cousin hitchhiked to Maryland to enlist in the Army.

He was assigned to a mule-drawn artillery unit at Edgewood, and years later -- as a member of the 6th Field Artillery Veterans Association -- helped with a museum installation at Edgewood to memorialize the defunct unit.

After his 1933 discharge, Mr. Stancill married Hazel Marie Edwards. She had a small piece of property on Mountain Road, Route 152, in Harford County, where he opened a gravel pit.

"It was the depths of the Depression in eastern Carolina, and there wasn't much opportunity back there," said his son. "So he stayed here and literally went into the sand-and-gravel business with bushelbaskets, fixing potholes.

"It was a door-to-door operation: If you had a hole in your driveway, he'd knock and say, 'I'll fix it for 50 cents.' It doesn't get much more basic than that."

In 1938, Mr. Stancill opened his first plant for the production of mason sand in Joppa and opened an excavation company. The company once had 120 workers.

Mr. Stancill began to buy "little pieces of land" -- 15-acre to 40-acre parcels that had been cut off by a road passing through a large farm, said his son. Some eventually were sold for businesses.

After logging and excavating a parcel, his father would restore the land, he said. "Before it was fashionable, he would knock down the humps and bumps and plant pines on it. He wasn't one of these developers who's in and out. He'd hold a piece of land for 20 years."

Larry Stancill said that, although his father was not formally educated, he could spot mathematical errors in an estimate using his own system based on six, eight and 10. "Nobody taught him math, so he invented his own 'new math,' " the son said.

Stancill Field opened June 6, 1970, after years of volunteer effort that turned 13 1/2 acres of swampland into a complex with three baseball diamonds and a football field -- with dugouts and grandstands, and broadcasting, concession and bathroom facilities.

It prompted a celebration in Havre de Grace attended by then-Gov. Marvin Mandel. Mr. Stancill received the Governor's Citation for Outstanding Service.

Edward J. Hutchins, a local businessman and former president of the Havre De Grace Little League Inc., said Mr. Stancill worked seven days a week one summer, grading the site.

"He put in just thousands of dollars, and I don't know how much labor," he said.

Mr. Stancill also played the guitar and was an accomplished ballroom dancer.

He was active in the Harford County Chamber of Commerce, the Bel Air Moose and the Havre de Grace Elks Club.

Services will be at 10 a.m. today at McComas Funeral Home, 50 W. Broadway in Bel Air. Contributions may be made to the Sexual Assault/Spousal Abuse Resource Center, 48 Gordon St., Bel Air 21014.

Mr. Stancill's first wife died in 1979.

He is survived by his wife, the former Geneva Reed Lehnert; and three other sons, Jerry L. Stancill of Baltimore, Terry D. Stancill of Darlington and Timothy K. Stancill of Fallston; a daughter, Merrie H. Standish of Fallston; 12 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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