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Baltimore’s Jack Lapides, the conscience of the Senate, will be missed | READER COMMENTARY

The late state Sen. Julian "Jack" Lapides was a leading voice for ethics in Annapolis. (Doug Kapusin/Baltimore Sun).
The late state Sen. Julian "Jack" Lapides was a leading voice for ethics in Annapolis. (Doug Kapusin/Baltimore Sun). (Baltimore Sun photo by Doug Kapusin)

As state senator for three decades, Julian L. “Jack” Lapides was known as the conscience of the General Assembly and locally for his crucial role in jump-starting historic preservation citywide and for the Democratic powerhouse of the Mount Royal Democratic Club he led for decades in partnership with Bolton Hill friend and neighbor Tom Ward (”Julian ‘Jack’ Lapides, former Maryland state senator from Baltimore, dies,” July 14).

But as the 1960s evolved, the 2nd District’s New Democratic Club 2 (NDC-2) came on the scene to challenge the Mount Royal with the 1970 Clarke-Dalton campaign for equal representation of African-American candidates to serve the district’s majority African-American population. The Clarke half was my husband, Joe. The NDC-2 founder was another of Jack’s neighbors, Walter S. “Wally” Orlinsky. The Team’s campaign manager was Bill Henry Sr., the late beloved father of current City Comptroller Bill Henry Jr. And we beat Mount Royal by electing 15 of the Team’s 18 candidates.

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But Jack beat Joe, and thus began an ongoing rivalry in every subsequent election including my own in 1975. But, maybe when Jack finally invited me to the Mount Royal’s famous annual Christmas party, I became a friend and admirer of Jack for life as the exceptional representative and person he was and will always be in the legacy of Baltimore and the state of Maryland.

A few weeks ago, a friend alerted me that Jack was gravely ill. I found him holding court in a sitting room at Symphony Manor. He laughed about already outliving his doctors’ life span predictions. And he filled his “wait” with streams of visitors and calls, including most importantly with wife Linda. “Here I am, just waiting,” he’d say, almost as if patiently waiting for the next chapter while helping us accept it. Bless him for that, and may Jack be finding that chapter as joyful as he so optimistically anticipated.

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Mary Pat Clarke, Baltimore

The writer, a Democrat, served multiple terms on the Baltimore City Council beginning in 1975.

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