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Jack Eddinger, political spokesman and press secretary to Mayor D’Alesandro, dies

John W. “Jack” Eddinger was press secretary to former Baltimore Mayor Thomas J. D’Alesandro 3rd and Senator Charles McC. Mathias.
John W. “Jack” Eddinger was press secretary to former Baltimore Mayor Thomas J. D’Alesandro 3rd and Senator Charles McC. Mathias. (Handout)

John W. "Jack" Eddinger, a veteran political spokesman who was press secretary to former Baltimore Mayor Thomas J. D'Alesandro III and Sen. Charles McC. Mathias Jr., died of pneumonia complications Wednesday at Sinai Hospital. The Homeland resident was 84.

Born in Fountain Hill, Pa., near Bethlehem, he attended St. Ursula School and was a 1952 graduate of Bethlehem Catholic High School, where he was elected school president.

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He obtained a degree at Villanova University, served in the Army, then also received a master's degree from the Johns Hopkins University.

Mr. Eddinger was a reporter for the Bethlehem, Pa., Globe-Times and the Easton, Pa., Express before moving to Baltimore as a reporter for the old Evening Sun. He later joined the Washington Evening Star as a reporter and was briefly a writer for the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

While covering Baltimore politics, he met Thomas J. D'Alesandro 3rd, who named Mr. Eddinger his press secretary after his 1967 election. He held that post until 1971, when Mr. D'Alesandro announced he would not run for reelection.

"Jack was a master, whether it was in his writing or in his relationships with the members of the City Council or the General Assembly," said former Mayor D'Alesandro. "He was on top of issues early. He didn't need to react to them because he was so well prepared."

Mr. Eddinger then returned to the Johns Hopkins, where he served as public relations director for the Maryland Regional Medical Program. In 1973 he became director of public affairs for the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

Former U.S. Sen. Joseph D. Tydings tapped him in 1975 to manage his campaign in the 1976 Democratic primary election to regain the U.S. Senate seat.

"Jack Eddinger was a wonderful man, a charmer and a straight-shooter," said former Sen. Tydings. ""He was an extremely capable and competent newsman. He was of material assistance to me in my campaign. I listened to his advice."

While Mr. Tydings lost to then-Rep. Paul S. Sarbanes in the primary election, Mr. Eddinger went on to become chief spokesman for the successful candidate. In that 1976 general election, Mr. Sarbanes, a Democrat, defeated Maryland's incumbent U.S. Senator J. Glenn Beall, a Republican.

In a busy period in his career, Mr. Eddinger was also working with Stephen H. Sachs, then a former United States attorney for Maryland, who was mounting a campaign for the 1978 Democratic nomination for state attorney general.

A 1977 article in The Baltimore Sun noted: "Jack Eddinger might well adopt the motto, 'Have pen, will travel.' "

Mr. Eddinger went on to be the director of communications for Senator Mathias. He held the post until 1983.

"Although all of Mr. Eddinger's past political clients have been Democrats, he said he is quite comfortable working for a Republican senator," The Sun's 1977 article said.

In the article, Mr. Eddinger said: "Senator Mathias has always been a singular senator. Philosophically there's no problem and besides, I've always voted for him."

Mr. Eddinger remained active on Capitol Hill. He was a media consultant to former Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes in his 1984 to 1986 Democratic primary campaign for the U.S. Senate. That contest was won by Barbara A. Mikulski, who then served in the Senate from 1987 to 2017.

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According to a biography prepared by his family, Mr. Eddinger held public affairs positions in Washington with Sprint Communications, United Press International and the Kiplinger financial publishing company.

He also headed a pre-Internet electronic start-up publishing venture, PressNet Systems Inc., a news and intelligence service for Congress and Fortune 500 companies.

"The business became operational but foundered in the 1992 technology bubble due to insufficient capitalization," said his daughter, .Jennifer E. Eddinger of Baltimore.

He retired in 2000.

Mr. Eddinger took canoe trips and hiked. He followed baseball and classic jazz. He also enjoyed French cusine.

"He made the most wonderful souffles," said his daughter. "He loved French wine too."

A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles Street, where he was a member.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include a son, John D. Eddinger; another daughter, Julia A. Eddinger, both of Baltimore; and two grandsons.

His wife of 54 years, Mary Duncan Conti Eddinger, a Roland Park Country School teacher, died in 2014. A daughter, Mary Elizabeth, died at birth.

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