W. Eugene Graybeal, 83, Bel Air town commissioner, store owner


W. Eugene Graybeal, former chairman of the Bel Air town commissioners and a hardware store owner, died Saturday of complications of Parkinson's disease at Hart Heritage Home in Forest Hill. He was 83 and lived in Bel Air.

Long active in Harford County politics, Mr. Graybeal was a town commissioner and member of the Harford County Board of Education in the 1980s. He also was chairman of the Harford County Charter Board in the 1970s.

From 1950 to 1981, he co-owned and ran Courtland Hardware, a store much recalled for its oiled, aromatic pine wood floors.

"He had a big old corner store right in the center of town," said June Weeks, a friend and former town commissioner. "He knew everything that happened because he heard everything in that store. People came in for a bag of nails and stayed to shoot the breeze."

Mr. Graybeal had a strong memory and could recognize the identities of people parked near his store from their license plates.

A tennis player, he maintained a clay court at his home and rolled its surface each week.

Born near Bel Air, Mr. Graybeal graduated from Bel Air High School and the University of Baltimore School of Law. He never practiced law.

In the 1940s, he was an instrument flight instructor for the Civil Air Patrol. He later became a pilot for the old Chicago and Southern Airlines, now known as Delta.

He was a longtime member of the Bel Air Lions Club.

In 1942, Mr. Graybeal married Jean Reed, who died this year.

A memorial reception will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Brick House, 501 W. Gordon St., Bel Air.

He is survived by a son, John Byron Graybeal of Mountain View, Calif.; three daughters, Judy Eagle of Bel Air, Laurie Graybeal of Charlotte, N.C., and Ann Graybeal of Berkeley, Calif.; a sister, Lillian Cooper of Ballston Spa, N.Y.; a half-sister, Betty Ruth Smedley of Columbia, Pa.; and three grandchildren.

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