Richard A. Lidinsky Jr., an attorney who headed the Federal Maritime Commission and was known as the “Watchdog of the Port,” died of complications from Parkinson’s disease Thursday at his Roland Park home. He was 76.
Born in Baltimore and raised in East Baltimore’s Czech community, he was the son of Richard A. Lidinsky Sr., executive secretary to Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro Jr. and later deputy comptroller of the City of Baltimore, and Angela Miller Lidinsky, a homemaker and volunteer.
“Public service was in the Lidinsky family DNA,” said former Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski. “Rick really helped to make the Port of Baltimore the powerhouse it is today.”
He attended St. Wenceslaus School and was a 1964 graduate of Calvert Hall College High School. He earned a degree at American University and was a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law. He served in the Coast Guard.
“He was a details person and a perfectionist. He was gregarious and cultivated lots of friendships,” said his sister, Mary Angela Mahoney. “He kept a card on the inside of his jacket of things that needed to be done that day. And by the end of the day, his to-do list was all crossed off.”
He met his future wife, Mary Duston “Dusty” Temmink, on a blind date at The Charles Theatre. They saw the film “Z.”
“I married him for his fine mind but stayed married because of his kind and forgiving heart,” she said.
Mr. Lidinsky was interested as a young man in maritime issues. He began his training as an aide to U.S. Rep. Edward A. Garmatz, who was chair of the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee.
“Rick was a complete gentleman,” said William P. Doyle, director of the Maryland Port Administration. “And on the docks, the ILA longshoremen called him the ‘catfish.’ He was always looking out for the little guy, labor and truckers.”
Longtime friend Michael P. Cataneo said: “Rick had a certain maturity at a young age. He was always there for me. He had a dry sense of humor. If you didn’t know him, you could not know if he was serious, sarcastic or funny.”
Mr. Lidinsky later joined the General Counsel’s Office of the Federal Maritime Commission while Helen Delich Bentley was the chair.
He served as her legislative counsel and worked on and testified in support of the legislation that enabled the commission to bring the maritime industry into the age of containerization that was sweeping the globe and exploding trade, a family autobiographical sketch said.
In 1976, he returned to Baltimore and became a director at the Maryland Port Administration. He was legal counsel and director of tariffs and national port affairs.
An editorial in The News American called him “Watchdog of the Port.”
In 1982, while on a trade commission to China with other state officials and private Baltimore maritime companies, he drafted an agreement that the Chinese government shipping company COSCO signed. The agreement helped bring the company’s first ships to Baltimore.
Mr. Doyle, of the Maryland Port Administration, also said, “Rick represented the Port through both regional and national port organizations, and he was directly involved with helping to develop the Panama Canal Treaty Implementing Legislation and the Shipping Act of 1984.”
In 1986, he joined the international maritime conglomerate Sea Containers as its vice president for governmental affairs.
He had offices in Washington and London and negotiated contracts for the U.S. military to containerize its equipment. He was also a maritime adviser to NATO.
In 2008, President Barack Obama nominated Mr. Lidinsky to join the Federal Maritime Commission. He was named its chair in September 2009.
“During his chairmanship he had to confront the fact that over 90% of US maritime cargo was carried by foreign ships, and that a new global system of foreign alliances would dictate how US ports and consumers would be served,” said his family statement.
Mr. Lidinsky believed in forging ties with Chinese shipping firms. He addressed the COSCO 50th anniversary dinner in Beijing at the Great Hall of the People.
The Morning Sun
He attended the expansion of the Panama Canal Conference, which he had supported, in 2016. He left the commission that year.
An avid Orioles fan, he attended the team’s first game in April 1954 with his father. He also had a seat when the team played its last game at Memorial Stadium in 1991.
He attended the Colts-New York Giants NFL championship contest, widely called the “Greatest Game Ever Played,” in 1958 at Yankee Stadium.
He was a member of St. Ignatius Roman Catholic parish on North Calvert Street.
Survivors include his wife of 51 years, the former Mary Duston Temmink, a retired English instructor to speakers of other languages; two sons, Richard A. Lidinsky III of Los Angeles and John Lidinsky of Parkville; a sister, Mary Angela Mahoney of Baltimore; brothers Mark Lidinsky of Kent Island and Frank Lidinsky of Towson; and two grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, at 5200 N. Charles St.