George Anderson Shehan Sr., an attorney who worked in land development in Columbia and at Riverside in Harford County, died of a heart-related illness Dec. 25 at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. The Mays Chapel North resident was 79.
Born in Baltimore, he was the son of J. Brooke Shehan, an oil company executive, and his wife, Margaret Anderson, a homemaker, and a nephew of Cardinal Lawrence Shehan. He grew up in Rodgers Forge on Hopkins Road and attended the Lida Lee Tall School and Cathedral School. He was a 1958 graduate of Loyola High School at Blakefield, where he played football.
He earned a bachelor’s degree at what is now Loyola University Maryland and a law degree at the University of Baltimore.
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As a young attorney he joined the Rouse Company and worked in the early development of Columbia. Friends said he was known for his legal skills, honesty, wit and an innate ability to put people at ease.
He later became general counsel of Land Venture Associates in Columbia and worked in the development of the Woodlands in Houston.
In 1991 he became general counsel for the development of the lands adjacent to the Bata Shoe Company in Belcamp in Harford County. He worked to develop what became known as the residential community of Riverside. He also worked to have a Riverside exit constructed off I-95.
“He had a really good of sense of humor and could address people well. He was personable. He had the ability to connect,” said his son, George Anderson “Andy” Shehan Jr. of Cockeysville. “He made people feel comfortable. He never sought to short-change anyone. He was a hard worker and was a man of principle."
He was later general counsel and vice president of American Landmark Homes and built residential properties in Harford County and Charlotte, North Carolina.
He was named president of the Homebuilders Association of Maryland in 1991 and named Home Builder of the Year in 1992
He served as chief of the Maryland Human Relations Commission and was appointed to the Public Service Commission.
From 1997 until his death he was a partner in the firm of Tillman, Shehan and Letzkus and vice president of Colony Title Group in Columbia.
“He had a broad expanse of experience in real estate work both from a development, building and title background,” said his partner, Edwin “Tee” Tillman. “He was outgoing and a wonderful person to be around. He could resolve difficult title issues. "
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He played poker for more than 50 years with a group of friends, many of whom were his high school classmates. They initially played in a Rodgers Force garage.
“George delighted in a small victories. If he won $5, he was over the moon. If he lost it didn’t bother him — but he might ask you to buy a round of drinks," said a fellow player, David Brune. “He was an optimistic guy.”
The poker group rotated at homes in Baltimore County.
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Mr. Shehan also enjoyed sailing and was a golf enthusiast. He once hit a hole-in-one at Salt Pond in Bethany Beach, Delaware. He also enjoyed gardening and built a backyard fish pond.
“He was a man with a firm handshake.” said his son. “He enjoyed being around children and he took time out of his day to play ghosts in the basement.”
A memorial Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles Street, where he was a member.
In addition to his son, survivors include a daughter, Darby Lassiter of Baltimore; four grandchildren; and Lynda Meade, his companion of many years. His marriage to Jeanne Joy McDade Shehand ended in divorce.