Morris Lee Krome was a man of many nicknames.
He was known as “Moe” among his Maryland State Police colleagues during his lifelong service and “Mike” by those who knew him from his family’s farm. Friends teased that he was “Major Mower” for all the time he spent toiling over his property’s grass, and, back in the day, they’d call him the “hard road trooper” for the time he spent constantly patrolling the roads.
He’d garnered several other names over his 79 years that those who knew him held dear — a friend. A good family man. A reliable steward of the troopers’ retirement system. A trusted ally. A financial guru. A wise investor. A horrible navigator. A wealth of knowledge.
But no matter what his loved ones and colleagues called him, they say his character remained consistent: He was an honest, caring man who led a meticulously kept life, hammering out the details of troopers’ retirement planning just like he cared for the Persimmon Tree Farm with his wife and scheduled out every single detail of their vacation plans to horse shows around the world.
“I still have files 3 inches thick from every trip we go, I’m not kidding you,” said his wife, Carolyn Krome. “I think that was more fun for him than actually going on vacation. He loved planning.”
Krome, 79, died on June 10 at Carroll Hospice’s Dove House. Carolyn Krome said the cause was a “massive brain bleed.”
‘Hard road trooper’
Moe was a representative of Maryland State Police through and through. With the exception of some temporary jobs in high school, the police force was his employer throughout his career.
In 1962, he was accepted to the state police academy and became a trooper, working in patrolling and supervisory positions. He continued to rise through the ranks over his 31 years of service with the state police, ending his career as the assistant chief of the administrative bureau until his retirement in 1991.
“He lived state police,” said Tim Clark, a lifelong friend. “He was just totally dedicated; even long after he retired, he [worked on] the state retirement board, things like that.”
Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees recalled Krome hiring him as an 18-year-old cadet in 1989, when Krome was the commander of the personnel management division, his signature scrawled on his paperwork. It wasn’t until later in his career, after Krome retired, that he developed a personal relationship with him.
Krome, the elected trustee representing state troopers in the retirement system, acted as a “good steward” of the system, ensuring troopers had money for “years and years and years to come” so they could retire, DeWees said.
“He was a financial guru, and was always an asset to have at our meetings because he would explain what was going on in the retirement system,” said DeWees, who was Maryland Troopers Association president for eight years. “There are people that just don’t understand the impact a guy like him had in their lives as a retiree or as a future retiree.”
And though he did important, serious work throughout his life, that didn’t mean he didn’t have fun while he was doing it.
Clark, who worked with federal law enforcement, recalled the days Krome spent on night patrol that he’d join him on. They’d ride around and “get into mischief,” making traffic stops and developing a friendship along the way.
They’d still have to work some holiday weekends, so they’d grab something to eat and drive around. And on one night while driving back from Hancock, they saw two cars racing in and out of traffic. Clark said they should pull them over.
When the cars cut someone off, Krome and Clark approached only to find that one had two deaf women they couldn’t communicate with, and the other held a man with his wife and child whose car registration was only good for driving it to a junkyard.
There were no troopers nearby on Interstate 70, so they had to deal with it themselves, calling it in and having the racers follow them to the nearby barracks.
“I never lived that one down,” Clark said.
The next time they shared a holiday weekend, Krome spent hours on the computer until he came up with a route where he wouldn’t have to get on an interstate highway for eight hours.
“He had a good sense of humor about things,” Clark said. “So boy, he gave me a lot of grief about stopping those two cars.”
When patrolling, some officers would stop and have coffee, Clark said. Maybe Krome would grab a coffee, too, but he’d quickly get back on the road.
“Back in the day, they’d call him the hard road trooper,” Clark said. “Those guys that just went out and worked and worked and worked. They didn’t sit around and sit around and relax for a while.”
‘A horrible navigator’
For someone who took joy in perfecting the nitty-gritty details, Krome led a life that wasn’t without unplanned moments. When he traveled around the world, often to Europe — Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany — he’d have an itinerary packed with historic spots to visit with Lee Primm, who had been a friend of Krome’s for decades.
Though he knew a lot about the places they were visiting — like the area where the Battle of the Bulge was fought, or other World War II sites in Germany — that didn’t mean he knew how to get there.
“He was a horrible navigator,” Primm said. “So, when I was the driver and he was the navigator, we would always get lost, which was fun.
“He was a man. So, I don’t think he knew what a map was.”
On one occasion, the pair was headed to see a World War II monument in Germany. They were low on gas, and pulled into a small village.
Just 200 yards away from the station was a beautiful German cemetery from the war — and it certainly wasn’t on the day’s schedule.
“We would not even have known about it had we not stumbled upon it,” he said. “It was an emotional experience for both of us.”
The farm he and his wife cared for — a manicured, well-kept property in Westminster — had a lily pond “three times the size” of the one painted in a famous work by Claude Monet, Primm said. The space, used to care for show horses, is filled with acres of wildlife habitat projects and conservation efforts.
“Since he was a major with the state police, [and] he loved mowing the field, we called him Major Mower,” Clark said.
Carolyn Krome remembered it a little differently. He might’ve told the troopers he was always mowing grass and shoveling horse manure, but it “wasn’t nearly as bad as he made it seem.”
Nonetheless, he was always enthusiastic. When they went to check out the property, it was falling apart — “132 acres of jungle,” Carolyn said — as they stared at it with the real estate agent, her two sons and her mother. Mike was shaking his head at the state of the place.
But this was the property she wanted — so he drove their manure spreader all the way from Owings Mills to the property.
Marrying a “little farm girl with two children,” was certainly an adjustment for a man born and raised in Baltimore, she said. At the end of the day, though, he was a “great advocate” for their family, and helped a lot with the business.
“He certainly always was happy and healthy helping me out with the farm,” his wife said.
In addition to his wife, Krome is survived by his two sons, Kenneth Krome of Westminster and Keith Dudley (Kathleen) Krome of Union Bridge; grandchildren Stephanie Wright, Sara French and Sharon Krome; and three great-grandsons.
Friends and family are invited to a celebration of life Sunday, June 23, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Pritts Funeral Home & Chapel, at 412 Washington Road in Westminster. A time of sharing will be held at 6 p.m.