George W. Gephart, former Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. manager of communications and public affairs who was also the utility’s chief lobbyist, died Nov. 30 of congestive heart failure at the Blakehurst Retirement Community in Towson. The former longtime Mount Washington resident was 94.
George Wesley Gephart, the son of George Frederick Gephart, a Bell Telephone Co. worker, and his wife, Helen Ashby Grafflin, a homemaker, was born in Washington. After his father died in 1937, he and his mother moved to Mount Washington to be near relatives.
Mr. Gephart attended Polytechnic Institute, where he was a member of the National Honor Society and played goalie on the varsity lacrosse team. He dropped out his junior year and enlisted in 1943 in the Marine Corps, serving as an airborne radar technician who helped develop new radar technology that was used to locate lost pilots in air, on land and at sea.
Discharged with the rank of corporal in 1946, Mr. Gephart enrolled at Yale University, where he studied engineering on the GI Bill. While in New Haven, he was varsity lacrosse goalie and was a member of Zeta Psi fraternity. He earned a master’s degree in 1972 from Harvard Business School.
While at Yale, he met and fell in love with his roommate’s sister, the former Nancy Stuart Mairs, whom he married in 1951.
Mr. Gephart attended Yale and Harvard without the benefit of a high school diploma.
“In the late 1980s he received his honorary high school diploma that was signed by Mayor William Donald Schaefer,” said a son, John Alexander Gephart of Roland Park.
Mr. Gephart began his more than four-decade career at BGE working in customer relations and personnel as employment supervisor. He held that position until 1965 when he was chosen to organize the company’s public affairs department.
Over the next 25 years he led both the public affairs and corporate communications departments, and at the time of his retirement in 1990 was BGE’s manager of communications and public affairs. Additionally, he served as the utility’s chief lobbyist for federal, state and local government affairs.
One of his major career achievements was obtaining federal, state and local approval for the construction of the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in the face of massive public protests against nuclear power.
He had been chairman of Maryland PAC, director of the Public Affairs Council and National Association of Business Political Action Committees and a member of the Public Affairs Committee of the United States Chamber of Commerce.
In 1957, Mr. Gephart and his family moved to a Mount Washington house that had been built by John Gephart, his great-grandfather, in 1873, and where he lived until 2000 when he settled in the Towson retirement community.
His civic interests included the Boy Scouts and serving as president of the Byron/Kaufman Foundation Inc., and as a trustee of St. Mary’s College of Maryland Foundation, St. Paul’s School for Girls and the Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital.
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He had also been president of the Gilman School Parents Association and president of the Yale Alumni Association of Maryland. He was a member of the Maryland Club, the Center Club and the Annapolis Yacht Club.
A world traveler, Mr. Gephart enjoyed vacationing at a second oceanfront home in Dewey Beach, Delaware.
His wife of 66 years, who had taught lower school students at Gilman, Bryn Mawr and Roland Park Country School, died in 2017.
Mr. Gephart was a former member and elder of Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church and Old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where he had been a vestryman.
He was a communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., where a memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Jan. 3.
In addition to his son, he is survived by two others sons, George Wesley Gephart Jr. of Charleston, South Carolina, and Angus McLeod Mairs Gephart of Spring Lake, New Jersey; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.