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Alan Getz, retired Harford County tax attorney, dies

Stanley Getz, left, and his brother, Alan Getz, sit on a bench in Bel Air. The bench was dedicated to their mother, Tillye Getz.
Stanley Getz, left, and his brother, Alan Getz, sit on a bench in Bel Air. The bench was dedicated to their mother, Tillye Getz. (For the Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Alan Getz, a retired Harford County attorney who oversaw the annual property tax sale and was a part of an old Bel Air family law firm, died of cancer May 10 at the Blakehurst Retirement Community in Towson. He was 86 and had lived in Bel Air.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Bel Air, he was the son of Louis Getz, who ran his family’s clothing store, and his wife Tillye Cohen, who also operated the business. The clothing business had been founded by his grandparents, Solomon and Mary Getz, who came to Bel Air from Pennsylvania in 1895.

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Mr. Getz and his brothers, Morton and Stanley, who worked in the clothing business as young men, later closed the store, at 26 S. Main St., and moved their law practice to the front of the building, where it remains.

He grew up in the apartment above the store and was a 1953 graduate of Bel Air High School. He earned a law degree from the University of Baltimore.

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As a teen he took a course in income tax preparation and hung a sign in the clothing store advertising his tax preparation service. He annually prepared some 2,500 returns.

“He worked harder than anyone I have ever seen from Jan. 1 through April 15. My siblings and I rarely saw him for those months,” said his son, Dr. Randal D. Getz of Baltimore. “But the rest of the year he showed us how to have fun, and enjoy life.”

Mr. Getz met his future wife, Carollee Block, on a blind date. They married in 1957.

Mr. Getz served for many years as the attorney for the Harford County treasurer’s office and was tax counsel for the annual tax sale.

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“People had a high regard for Alan,” said Michael Klein Jr., a family friend and partner in the Klein’s-Shop Rite supermarket chain. “He had a great wit, and he had a great mind.”

In a 2014 Aegis article, he recalled commuting with his brother from Bel Air to Baltimore for law school.

“We would leave at 5 o’clock, and we would leave Bel Air, and the first sign of a red light was at Joppa Road,” he said.

In the article he recalled “the close-knit nature of Bel Air during their childhoods, when all of downtown Bel Air’s businesses were clustered along three blocks of Main Street between Churchville Road and Lee Street.”

“To be honest, it’s a whole different world,” he also said. “It’s like you went from a town where you knew everybody, and everybody knew you, to a town where you know very few.”

Mr. Getz and his brothers formed the law firm Getz, Getz & Getz in 1957.

“Mr. [Alan] Getz also remembered looking across Main Street from their law office and see the former Harford County jail and sheriff’s house,” the Aegis article said. “He said there was typically only one prisoner in the jail on many weekends. The prisoner was a drunken man sleeping it off.”

The family building where he practiced was known as 10 Downing Street because local and state politicians sought his father’s counsel.

The Harford County Council recognized Alan and Stanley Getz in 2012 as Living Treasures.

“My father taught me through example, such as the importance of working hard, the wisdom of saving, and how to be successful through a combination of smarts, personality, drive, and persistence,” said another son, Joel A. Getz, who lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

“I recall him as a kind and giving man,” said Paula Anis, Harford County assistant supervisor of revenue collections. “He knew tax sale inside and out. He had a deep knowledge of land values, their location and history.”

Mr. Getz’s daughter, Lyn Stacie Getz, died in 1999 at age 32. Mr. Getz and his wife contributed $50,000 for a playground for the community at the corner of Route 24 and Ring Factory Road. The playground is dedicated to her memory.

Mr. Getz said in a Sun article that he made the gift “because she was so in love with children, [and] with the arts. This is a perfect way for her memory to live.”

The couple built a second playground in Ashkelon, Israel, and a musical garden at the Jewish Educational Alliance Preschool in Savannah, Georgia, in their deceased daughter’s name.

He and his wife also created the Lyn Stacie Getz Foundation to support charities that focus on children’s health and wellness.

Mr. Getz had served on the regional board for Farmers Bank, which grew out of the former Commercial and Savings Bank.

He was a dedicated Zionist and gave an annual Bonds for Israel speech at the Harford Jewish Center in Havre de Grace, a congregation his parents helped found.

He was also a Pepsi-Cola drinker and consumed several bottles a day. He did not care for Coca-Cola.

Funeral services were held May 11 at Sol Levinson and Brothers.

In addition to his two sons, survivors include his wife of 64 years, a schoolteacher who later worked in administration at Beth Tfiloh’s school; his brother, Stanley Getz of Bel Air, with whom he practiced law; and four grandchildren. His brother Morton died in 1995.

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