Vernon Harry Wiesand, a retired attorney and police magistrate who was a former city Recreation and Parks Board president, died of stroke complications May 26 at the Anchorage Nursing Home in Salisbury. The former Mount Vernon Place resident was 92.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Wilke Avenue, he was a 1938 City College graduate. He earned a degree at Western Maryland College, where he met his future wife, the former Shirley Jones.
His son, Mark Wiesand of Kingsville, said his father overcame polio as a child and volunteered with charities active in disability work.
"His integrity was only exceeded by his kindness toward his fellow man," his son said. "He had a high degree of acceptance throughout his life and instilled that quality in others. He had a ability to bring people together and get them to agree. He would say, 'It is all right to step on some toes as long as you do not bruise them.'"
Mr. Wiesand received a degree from the University of Maryland School of Law and worked under Judge Simon E. Sobeloff's office and acted as counsel to the city's Liquor Board.
Active in Republican politics, he twice ran unsuccessfully for the House of Delegates. In 1953, Gov. Theodore R. McKeldin appointed him a magistrate, a job that required him to hear cases in city police district courts.
"He really didn't draw party lines," his son said. "He was basically a conservative person."
For several years, he presided at the old Pine Street Police Station Court, a building that is part of the University of Maryland's downtown campus. The Pine Street Station was also known as women's court.
Family members said that though a magistrate, he picked up the name "Judge Wiesand." News stories in The Sun indicated that Mr. Wiesand heard hundreds of cases, including that of a woman who refused to have her 7-year-old son vaccinated and a woman who stole $1.80 worth of chicken from a Food Fair store. He also handed out fines for illegal dice games and gave 30 days to a man for stealing 5-gallon drums of coal from a city school.
In 1955, he set bail at $5,000 for two Biddle Street men accused of running a still that produced 5 gallons a day of 125-proof whiskey.
In 1959, when his magistrate's appointment ran out, he left his bench at Pine Street and was given a farewell dinner by the Police Department and as well as a set of pens for his desk.
He then returned to a private legal practice. He also worked with his brother, William Wiesand, to acquire and restore buildings in Mount Vernon. A 1971 Sun story said they had reclaimed an old rowhouse auto tire store at St. Paul and Eager streets and made it into a four-unit apartment house.
In 1975, the brothers bought a large corner home on Mount Vernon Place at Cathedral Street, where Mr. Wiesand lived with his family on the first floor and rented apartments upstairs. The home had been owned by Zenus Barnum, who ran 19th-century Baltimore's most famous hostelry, Barnum's Hotel.
"He loved Baltimore city and shared the same passions as William Donald Schaefer," his son said.
Mr. Wiesand, as president of the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Improvement Association, oversaw a springtime Mount Vernon Festival in the 1970s. In a letter to The Sun, he praised the "drawing power of this diverse community."
In 1979, Mayor Schaefer named Mr. Wiesand to a seat on the board of the Department of Recreation and Parks and he became its president in 1985. Among his chores, he lobbied University of Maryland officials to hold Terrapins football games at the old Memorial Stadium and worked for a Navy-Notre Dame game there as well. He stepped down in 1986.
In the 1970s, he began collecting wines and traveled widely to vineyards. He was a past president of the Baltimore chapter of the International Wine and Food Society. He was also a past president of the Baltimore German Society. He had been grand exulted ruler of the Baltimore Elks Club, and was chair of the Art Commission of Baltimore.
The Morning Sun Newsletter
Get your morning news in your e-mail inbox. Get all the top news and sports from the baltimoresun.com.
He was a member of the Society for the History of Germans in Maryland.
Active in the Masons, he was a member of the Boumi Temple.
In addition to his son and wife of 59 years, survivors include two daughters, Nancy Conner of Montague, Mass., and Stephanie Rivkind of Salisbury; and three grandchildren. His brother, William Wiesand, died in 2009.