There are characters, and there are characters, and one of the area's true unique ones, Leonard "call me Len" H. Lockhart Sr., died Feb. 27, the day following his 85th birthday.
Plenty of folks around Havre de Grace knew Mr. Lockhart and some had business dealings with him, among them Cecil Hill, Bob Wood and the rest of group that developed Bayview Estates, where the eponymous Lockhart Court is named for him.
Mr. Lockhart was a lawyer and a banker, a mixture of Harold Hill, Seabright Cooley and Elmer Gantry to name a few literary characters that come to mind. He was a charmer, and he also had an element of slicksterism to him, an image I think he clearly relished and was happy to cultivate.
He had a gift of gab and could definitely be a spell binding public speaker. If he showed up at a public meeting to pitch a cause or was representing a client in the courtroom, his performances were generally of the sort you wouldn't want to miss.
According to an obituary published in The Aegis last week (I'm sorry to say it did not also appear in The Record), Mr. Lockhart was born in rural Illinois and grew up in the Tennessee coalfields, where his father was a miner. He came to Harford County in 1944 when he enlisted in the Army at was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
Following his Army hitch, he married a local girl, Kathleen Pender, and went to school on the GI bill at the University of Baltimore, where he studied law. My former boss, the late Robbie Wallis, was a classmate of Mr. Lockhart's and was fond of describing how, at the time they were taking classes at night, "Leonard was driving a truck for Coca Cola in Havre de Grace, and he often showed up for class wearing those green pinstriped pants the Coke drivers wear - he'd get up to speak and everybody would be staring at those green pinstriped pants." The story painted quite a contrast with the Leonard Lockhart of 20 years later, who was always dressed to the nines.
Mr. Wallis said he and Mr. Lockhart frequently talked about what they planned to do in the future and, according to Mr. Wallis, anyway, Mr. Lockhart wanted to hang out a shingle in Cecil County, "because he said there would be easier pickings over there."
I found this item from The Record of Jan. 26, 1956: "Leonard Lockhart, promising young attorney of this city, has accepted a position as a teller at the Havre de Grace Banking and Trust Company." A year and a half later, according to another story from The Record, he was serving as the master of ceremonies for the city's July 4 festivities.
Of course, Mr. Lockhart did eventually head across the Susquehanna to practice law in Elkton, where he formed a longtime association with Walter Baker, the onetime state senator who was one of Cecil County's political power brokers for decades. He also became associated with the National Bank of Rising Sun and served as the bank's chairman.
I first met Mr. Lockhart years ago when I covered Havre de Grace for and he would occasionally show up at city council meetings and in other venues on some kind of business. He was always happy to be back in Havre de Grace, he would remind everyone, shaking hands and expounding on his time living in the city. Needless to say, he made a lasting impression on me and, I suspect, on most other people who met him because he had the kind of personality you don't easily forget.
While on the subject of people passing on, I would be remiss not to mention Arnie Raudenbush who died Feb. 25 at the age of 68.
Arnie was involved in Havre de Grace politics in the early 1980s and was one of a group that used to get together regularly following city council meetings to solve the all world's problems over beers or Cokes. Among the regulars were Clark Turner, David Craig, the late Charlie Montgomery, Mitch Shank, Allen Fair, Cindy Laurie, Frank Hertsch, Gunther Hirsch and his late first wife, Poldi, Kal Reigelhaupt, John Correri, Arnie and me.
Arnie served a single term on the city council 1980-82. He voted to adopt the zoning code, as did Cindy, a gutsy act of political suicide that cost them their seats in the 1982 city election and presaged Gunther Hirsch's own rise to prominence in city politics.
Boy, that all seems so long ago, and it sadly reminds me how I've managed to lose track of a few of my old Havre de Grace friends like Arnie Raudenbush, a great guy for sure.