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Charles R. Boutin, former Aberdeen mayor and Harford County Board of Education president, dies

Commissioner Chuck Boutin
Commissioner Chuck Boutin (Baltimore Sun)

Charles R. Boutin, a former Aberdeen mayor and City Council member, state delegate and Harford County Board of Education president, died May 23 at a Kent County marina.

He was 79 and lived in Aberdeen.

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Mr. Boutin was found in the waters of Haven Harbour Marina in Rock Hall, about 20 feet from his sailing vessel. Maryland Natural Resources Police officers were dispatched to the marina at 7:45 a.m. regarding a report of a water rescue.

Two owners of a nearby boat slip found Mr. Boutin in the water, close to his vessel. His death remains under investigation, but police believe he fell while cleaning the boat.

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Mr. Boutin, who was born in Troy, New York, was the son of Charles Boutin and his wife, Mary Warenda. He was a graduate of Christian Brothers Academy and Sienna College, where he swam and played football and lacrosse.

After moving to Maryland he was a 1970 University of Baltimore School of Law graduate. He became a member of the Harford County school board in 1977 and served as board president from 1979 to 1981.

He served on the Aberdeen City Council from 1992 to 1994 and was the city’s mayor from 1994 to 1998, before being elected to the Maryland House of Delegates as a Republican. He was a member of the House from 1999 to 2005, representing Cecil and Harford counties in District 34A.

Mr. Boutin was the chief deputy minority whip and served on House committees such as Health and Government Operations and Environmental Matters.

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Former Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich appointed Mr. Boutin to the state’s Public Service Commission in 2005, and he served on the PSC until resigning in early 2007. Mr. Boutin was named a state administrative law judge with the Office of Administrative Hearings in March of that year. He retired in 2012.

Mr. Boutin enjoyed outdoor activities such as boating and fishing, as well as spending time with his family and friends.

Mr. Boutin’s former colleague in Annapolis, Republican Del. Susan McComas of Bel Air, recalled his love for his family, noting he was very proud of his sons. She remembered his “tremendous work ethic” and dedication to serving constituents, saying that he was a “very politically astute person” who had been helpful in her first term as a delegate in 2003.

“For someone that did not know the legislature well when I went in, [he was] very, very helpful,” she said.

They sat next to each other on the House floor, and shared a “really great” secretary between their legislative offices.

“Because I was a freshman, I got some good advice from [Mr. Boutin], as to how to do certain things” in Annapolis, she said.

She and Mr. Boutin first came to know each other through the legal field, as both worked as attorneys. Ms. McComas recalled being on the opposing side from him in a divorce case.

They also knew each other as municipal elected officials: She was mayor of the Town of Bel Air, and he was mayor of Aberdeen when they were part of a group of Harford County elected leaders who testified before the Senate Finance Committee in the late 1990s in favor of building a minor league baseball stadium in Aberdeen.

“We thought it was really wonderful, and we were supporting Aberdeen getting Ripken Stadium,” said Ms. McComas, who noted that Mr. Boutin was instrumental in getting the home of the Aberdeen IronBirds built in 2002.

Mr. Boutin served on the board of directors of the former Ripken Baseball Museum, which opened in 1996, occupying 1,500 square feet of space that had previously been used for city offices at Route 40 and West Bel Air Avenue.

The museum housed memorabilia from the career of Harford County native and Baltimore Orioles star Cal Ripken Jr., now a majority owner of the Ironbirds with his brother, Bill Ripken, also a former Oriole. The museum was also designed to celebrate the Ripken family’s connection to the community and baseball.

Writing in 1996, the late Sun sports columnist, John Steadman said, “It’s a standout in any league — the new Ripken Baseball Museum that represents ... an overwhelming personal tribute to a hometown hero. ... It’s not that Ripken’s importance removed Mayor Chuck Boutin and the town council from their offices, but they gladly cooperated so appropriate attention could be paid to the community’s most celebrated son.”

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday at the McComas Celebration of Life Center, 1114 Baldwin Mill Road in Jarrettsville.

Survivors include his wife of 45 years, Cynthia Shepherd, a Baltimore County schools nurse; three sons, Matthew Boutin of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Scott Boutin of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Chad Boutin of Germantown; and five grandchildren.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jacques Kelly contributed to this article.

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