THE TERM "VISIONARY" gets overused, especially posthumously. But it well suits Arthur W. Sherwood, an attorney who helped create the Chesapeake Bay Foundation nearly 30 years ago and who died last week at age 69.
So ahead of his time was Mr. Sherwood that a politician today could still borrow from the ideas he espoused a generation ago. He urged more community policing to make people feel safe on the streets -- back in 1967, when he ran for mayor of Baltimore. TTC He supported a downtown arena to stabilize the city -- in 1956, as a federal housing administrator (although he astutely observed the city cannot flourish as a cultural force without being a commercial one, too). He urged greater inclusion in his Republican Party -- obviously a point still unresolved.
Most sagacious, though, was his work with the environment, a passion born of his own parents' global travels to pursue fly-fishing. "Save the Bay" is a slogan widely recognizable now, but few people considered the estuary as a living thing in need of rescue when Mr. Sherwood sounded that warning in the mid-1960s. He opined that people should not take ecology for granted, but also that environmentalists must compromise, especially when jobs are at stake.
"He was full of energy, full of charm. He's been the sort that has been squeezed out of politics," said Stephen Hess, a highly regarded scholar at the Brookings Institution who as a Johns Hopkins grad student ran Mr. Sherwood's unsuccessful bid for Congress in 1954.
Arthur Sherwood possessed a world view, an air of compassion and eloquence sorely absent from public life. He once wrote of the bay, "The grand finale of a wintry day in the marsh leaves no one unaffected. The time is fleeting, but totally arresting. It is the moment of ultimate sunlight. Reflected on the breasts of a flight of swans, the light glows as if fanned from an inner source, as if the feathers were brushed with gold. . . . Those who appreciate its beauty will be the first to defend it when they see it threatened. They will save it, if anyone can."
A source of uncommon illumination himself, Mr. Sherwood was a steward of the Chesapeake Bay for whom Marylanders will long owe a debt of gratitude.
Pub Date: 12/26/96