A Tribute to former Carroll County Delegate Richard C. Matthews
December 26th, 2007 by
Recently, the death of former Carroll County Delegate Richard C. Matthews caused me to pause in thought about the many county leaders that have gone before us - and how they dealt with challenges. Delegate Matthews passed away on Dec. 13, 2007, at the age of 81.
As 2007 draws to a close and we all look forward (or not) to the opportunities and challenges of 2008, the lull between Christmas and New Years Day is often the time of some retrospection and assessment.
Anecdotally, this theme of reflection on the past year and thoughts of the future year has been shared with me by several community leaders in a number of conversations.
Of course, for an historian, there are always examples of past periods of time when the community had overwhelming problems in which the current challenges pale in comparison. Nevertheless that information provides us with little solace today.
In November, over the Veterans Day weekend, I attended a conference on “The Presidency and the Supreme Court.” Conversations with other historians about past eras in American history certainly put today’s challenges in a certain perspective. Be relieved as I will spare you a column on constitutional and economic challenges “The Revenue Act of 1862.”
Off the top of my head, in
In 2008 we can all look forward to some solutions to the many pressing challenges in our community. Perhaps you have a list of your own that you may want to share. If so, drop me an e-mail.
On July 30, when the acclaimed enigmatic Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, 89, passed away, I wrote that he drew much of his inspiration by attempting to figure out the various, often-conflicting dynamics of a small college town. His movies often made me think of
Mr. Bergman, like so many community leaders – present or long-since passed away- spent a lifetime engaged in mortal combat with the big questions of mortality, morality, faith, community, existence, family, despair, and betrayal.
Like making sausage, our quality of life was furthered by the relationships of folks combining their efforts so that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts, but it was often foreboding, disenchanting, and bewildering to watch it happen.
Delegate Matthews represented Carroll County in Annapolis from 1967 to 1994 and for many of those years was the chairman of the Carroll County legislative delegation. It was during the period of his service to our community that history is sure to reflect there were enormous changes in
His sure and steady, unassuming yet confident leadership served
He graduated from Hampstead High School in 1943. In Annapolis he was champion of small business and in that role, he was a charter member of the Maryland Legislative Small Business Forum.
He knew the challenges of running a small business in Maryland - most certainly as a result of the fact that from 1946 until he passed away, he owned and operated Matthews Service Station and Matthews Tire Co. Many folks recall that he was also the owner and operator of Hampstead Auto Parts from 1957 until 1985.
Many years ago, I did some business with him and in later years, at social occasions and community events, we would laugh about the fact that he defeated my cousin, Wilbur Magin, in the 1967 election. Delegate Magin served
I will always remember him as thoughtful and friendly; qualities that former Delegate Joe Getty echoed in a recent conversation. Former Delegate Getty said that Delegate Matthews was a family friend. He noted that Delegate Matthews was a “very modest, yet a strong advocate for small businesses and
Delegate Getty continued:
“Dick maintained a self-defined role in the Maryland House of Delegates in his representation of a rural agricultural community and representing the small mom and pop businesses.
Of course, he ran a small business himself. He kept rooted in his advocacy of small business and in that role, he found the right committee – the House Judiciary Committee.
He had no aspirations of higher office. He was confident and self-assured in the role that he played. In 1989, when Carroll County Senator Ray Beck was appointed to be a Circuit Court judge by Governor Wm. Donald Schaeffer.
In those days, I was on the Republican Central Committee. If you will recall, when there is a vacancy, it is the local
Don Taylor and I were asked to interview Delegate Matthews. We called him up and he told us to meet with him over at his Mom and Dad’s house.
There, in his Mom and Dad’s living room, the subject was broached that Dick was the logical person to move up to the Senate seat. He had no interest. He responded that he was very happy where he was.”
As to why Delegate Matthews was so influential and helped shape the Carroll County we know today, Mr. Getty reminded me that during Delegate Matthews’ “long tenure as an elected official, he served with – or worked with folks, whose span of leadership goes from the 1950s to the present.”
Including folks like Maryland State Senator Charles H. Smelser and former 6th District Congressman Goodloe E. Byron when he was a Maryland State Senator. He also served with Maryland State Delegate – and later a Senator, Raymond E. Beck and Senator Larry Haines; Delegates Richard N. Dixon, Lanny Harchenhorn and Jake Yingling.
Former Governor Robert L. Ehrlich thought highly of Delegate Matthews and considered him a good friend. They served 8 years together served on the house judiciary committee. Every time Governor Ehrlich visited anywhere near Hampstead, he would make sure to stop by (Delegate Matthews) tire store.
Delegate Matthews’ sure and steady, unassuming yet confident leadership served
His columns and articles appear in The Tentacle - www.thetentacle.com; Westminster Eagle Opinion; www.thewestminstereagle.com, Winchester Report and The Sunday Carroll Eagle – in the Sunday Carroll County section of the Baltimore Sun. Get Westminster Eagle RSS Feed