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Harry E. ‘Ed’ Lanehart, retired Baltimore County educator and official who was also a bodybuilder and champion bowler, dies

Harry E. "Ed" Lanehart was named the Maryland State Teacher of the Year in 1972. He qualified several times for the National Senior Olympics bowling tournaments.
Harry E. "Ed" Lanehart was named the Maryland State Teacher of the Year in 1972. He qualified several times for the National Senior Olympics bowling tournaments. (David Hobby / Baltimore Sun)

Harry E. “Ed” Lanehart, a retired Baltimore County Public Schools physical education instructor and school official who was a bodybuilder and champion tenpins bowler, died of undetermined causes Aug. 9 at his home in Lutheran Village at Miller’s Grant in Ellicott City. He was 86.

“Ed felt very strongly and thought physical education was extremely important and that they were lifetime skills,” said Robert Y. Dubel, who headed BCPS for 16 years before retiring in 1992.

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“In our Values Education Program where we stressed values in all subjects, he conducted countywide workshops in physical education for teachers. He made such contributions to our programs countywide,” Dr. Dubel said. “He was a delightful person who had a wonderful personality. I think of him as a Renaissance man.”

Harry Edwin Lanehart, son of George W. Lanehart, an Otis Elevator Co. worker, and his wife, Georgianna Taylor Lanehart, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised on Sargeant Street in Pigtown.

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Mr. Lanehart’s lifelong interest in physical fitness began early in his life. He began weightlifting when he was 14 and was an acclaimed wrestler who was undefeated his senior year at Southern High School, from which he graduated in 1954.

As a bodybuilder, he won numerous titles, including Mr. Maryland in 1956, Mr. Baltimore three years later, and Mr. Free State in 1969. He was named Mr. Maryland Over 35 in 1973.

Ed Lanehart was an avid bowler who practiced at Normandy Lanes in Ellicott City.
Ed Lanehart was an avid bowler who practiced at Normandy Lanes in Ellicott City. (Doug Kapustin / Baltimore Sun)

Mr. Lanehart earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in physical education from the University of Maryland, College Park.

During his 32-year career with BCPS, Mr. Lanehart was a physical education instructor at Pikesville, Campfield, Woodmoor, Hebbville and Lansdowne elementary schools. A few days a week, he’d travel to county schools and taught special needs students.

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In 1972, he was named supervisor of elementary physical education and assigned to the system’s central office, where he worked in curriculum development and mentored physical education instructors.

“As an educator, he had an unyielding passion for physical education and very knowledgeable with regard to the link between developmental process of physical and cognitive growth,” a daughter, Laura D. Forman, of New Windsor, wrote in an email. “He made learning fun for his students and never hesitated to ‘play’ along side them as he taught them.”

In 1972, Mr. Lanehart was recognized as the Maryland State Teacher of the Year.

Sally Nazelrod was a young physical education teacher at Catonsville Elementary School when she became acquainted with Mr. Lanehart in 1973, when he served as a resource teacher to the elementary physical education teachers in the southwest area of Baltimore County, which he referred to as the “Golden Southwest,” according to Ms. Nazelrod.

“He’d come to my school and he was my helping teacher and a resource to me. He helped teachers with experience or not,” Ms. Nazelrod said in a telephone interview. “We were like two peas in a pod loving what we did.”

In a subsequent email, Ms. Nazelrod wrote that he “wrote curriculum every summer for physical education. Was an expert on elementary physical education and physical fitness.”

“He was a 12-month teacher,” said another daughter, Jan L. Sheldon of Ellicott City.

Mr. Lanehart and Ms. Nazelrod used his photography skills to “create slide shows to advocate for physical education,” she wrote. They also worked with the Baltimore County Public School TV studio on a video about “Components of a Lesson in Elementary Education.”

Even though he retired in 1992, the two remained close friends.

“One of the things about Ed was that he possessed integrity 100% of the time,” said Ms. Nazelrod, who retired in 2015 as a health and physical education coordinator for BCPS. “That was paramount. He always took the high road and was pleasant and positive all of the time.”

Said Dr. Dubel: “Ed would have been an outstanding high school coach but he loved working with little kids. He was hardworking, honest and dependable. He grabbed all three and ran with them.”

Ed Lanehart of Ellicott City sings "What is America to Me" by Frank Sinatra during a talent show in October 2016 celebrating the 150th anniversary of Immanuel United Church of Christ in Catonsville.
Ed Lanehart of Ellicott City sings "What is America to Me" by Frank Sinatra during a talent show in October 2016 celebrating the 150th anniversary of Immanuel United Church of Christ in Catonsville. (Nicole Munchel / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Mr. Lanehart worked out every day in his home gym to “maintain his physical well-being,” Ms. Sheldon said.

He explained in a 2004 interview with The Sun that he didn’t drink or smoke and “prefers fish and chicken to red meat.”

“I’m a no-fat kind of person,” he said.

Mr. Lanehart had been a duckpin bowler until he started to bowl tenpins when he was in his 40s, and honed his skills several days a week at Normandy Lanes in Ellicott City.

“Lanehart’s trim figure and powerful delivery on the lanes are those of a much younger man,” The Sun observed in a 1993 article, and in 2001, he confessed to the newspaper that “I like the challenge of hitting something that’s 60 feet away.”

“His tenpin memories include two perfect 300 games, four 299 games and three or four298s,” The Sun reported in 2003.

His championship bowling earned him a roomful of trophies, medals and ribbons. He qualified several times for the National Senior Olympics bowling tournaments.

He was also active with the Maryland Senior Olympics Commission and helped to promote bowling as part of a healthy lifestyle for seniors.

Mr. Lanehart was also an accomplished Dixieland banjo and ukulele player. He also enjoyed singing in the choir of Immanuel United Church of Christ in Catonsville, where he was an active member.

He was the founder of a musical entertainment business called A Salute to Great Gentlemen of Song and traveled to senior centers, retirement communities and nursing homes where he performed the music of Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and other artists who make up the Great American Songbook.

His wife of 49 years, the former Jacquelyn Lee “Jackie” Collins, died in 2007.

Plans for a celebration-of-life gathering are incomplete.

In addition to his daughters, Mr. Lanehart is survived by three grandchildren.

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