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Edward S. Calwell Sr., former president of Westminster City Council and federal government analyst, dies

Edward S. Calwell Sr. was a Democrat who became a Republican.
Edward S. Calwell Sr. was a Democrat who became a Republican.

Edward S. Calwell Sr., a former president of the Westminster City Council and a federal government analyst, died Thursday of a cerebral infarction at his home in Westminster. He was 75.

“He was a man of great character who had a wonderful smile and laugh,” said his nephew, J. Andrew Calwell of Lutherville. “He was a wonderful conversationalist who loved meeting new people. He was also very knowledgeable about current affairs and loved reading newspapers.”

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Edward Sloan Calwell Sr., son of Walter Scott Calwell Sr., a lawyer, and his wife, Helen Wernsing Calwell, was born in Baltimore and raised on Springlake Way in Homeland.

During the 1690s, Mr. Calwell’s forebears settled in Harford County, and two of his ancestors, Samuel Calwell and Daniel Scott, were signers of the Bush Declaration, issued in March 1775 by members of the Bush River Committee, which called for independence from England. Later both fought as officers in the Revolutionary War.

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His great-great-grandfather, Otho Scott, a distinguished Maryland lawyer who was a leading member of the Harford County bar, codified the laws of Maryland in 1860.

Mr. Calwell was a 1963 graduate of Calvert Hall College High School and served as an Air Force jet mechanic from 1967 to 1972. In 1973, he earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Baltimore.

“We grew up together in Homeland,” said Henry “Hank” Wright of Lutherville. “Ned — I always called him that — went to Maryvale and I went to Visitation on Roland Avenue, and we played football against each other. We then both went to Calvert Hall and were the last freshman class to enter at the old downtown school, which was at Mulberry and Cathedral streets.”

As boys, both shared an interest in model railroading, fixing cars and sledding during winter on a hill on Springlake Way that the two friends named Bunker Hill.

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“We had year-round basement layouts and we loved working on the trains. It was a lot of fun,” Mr. Wright recalled. “A few years later, it was cars and girls and we didn’t want trains anymore. We worked on cars behind Ned’s house — Model T’s or whatever — and made them into hot rods.”

Mr. Calwell began his career as a systems analyst for the old Maryland National Bank and then joined the U.S. Treasury Department in Baltimore as a management analyst.

In 1981, he began working as a program analyst with the U.S. Health and Human Services Department at the Food and Drug Administration, and concluded his federal government career in 1998 at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda.

“He began his political career as a Democrat and then switched to the Republican Party,” said a son, Edward S. Calwell Jr. of Manchester.

Mr. Calwell who was chairman of the Westminster Public Utilities Commission, also served as president of the Westminster Area Recreation Council. He had previously been a member of the Westminster Board of Zoning Appeals, Parks Board, Carroll County Rape Crisis Center, and Historic District Committee, and had been associate director of the Carroll Gymnastics Center.

He was first elected in 1989 to the Westminster City Council.

”I was trying to get an idea of whether I had accomplished enough and represented them well enough to try for another four years,” Mr. Calwell told The Sun in 1993 when he sought a second City Council term, explaining that if he was reelected, two issues he’d focus on would be assuring that Westminster had adequate water supplies and continuing to control population growth.

From 1994 to 1999, Mr. Calwell served as council president, and in 1998 he ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the three-member Carroll County Board of Commissioners. In its endorsement, The Sun said that during his City Council tenure, Mr. Calwell had “demonstrated a strong grasp of local government and a capacity for mediation.”

Seeking a fourth term in 2001, Mr. Calwell, the incumbent who had held his council position for 12 years, was unseated by Roy L. Chiavacci, a member of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

Mr. Wright described Mr. Calwell as a “little quiet, but always entertaining.”

“He was not necessarily outgoing but was very friendly, but as he grew older, he became more of a homebody,” said his son.

In later years, he owned two antiques shops that specialized in furniture in Emmitsburg and New Oxford, Pennsylvania, and for years worked as a driver for Par Vending Co. in Finksburg, until retiring in 2019.

He also liked spending summers at a family home in Cape May, New Jersey.

“He loved sitting on the beach and reading his newspaper,” his son said.

For years, Mr. Calwell marched in the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “I’d see Ned and there and he was wearing the full uniform,” Mr. Wright said.

Mr. Calwell was a volunteer with the Carroll County Bureau of Aging.

He was a communicant of St. John Roman Catholic Church in Westminster.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church, 5502 York Road, Govans, where he was christened and married, family members said.

In addition to his son and nephew, Mr. Calwell is survived by another son, Jeffrey Scott Calwell of Columbia; his life partner of 19 years, Gail Steinfeldt; and two grandchildren. A marriage to Wanda Herbst ended in divorce.

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