(Images by Maximilian Franz / The Daily Record)
Mandel remembered as architect of Modern Maryland
By Brian Witte / Associated Press
PIKESVILLE, Md. — Maryland politicians from both parties remembered former Gov. Marvin Mandel on Thursday for his lasting innovations to state government and his quiet but highly effective talent for politics.
Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, noted Mandel’s calm demeanor with the Legislature, something Hogan expressed appreciation for after his own difficulties with legislators in his first year as governor.
Hogan outlined some of the Democratic governor’s achievements between 1969 and 1979. He reorganized the executive branch by streamlining 240 state agencies. He started the nation’s first school construction program. He updated an antiquated state court system. Mandel also created the first Medivac helicopter system, which would become a national model.
“In a sense, Gov. Marvin Mandel was the architect of modern Maryland, and no other executive in our history before or sense has ever had the lasting impacts on all three branches of government that he did,” Hogan said during a funeral service.
Mandel, who died Sunday at the age of 95, also was Maryland’s first Jewish governor.
“With his uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time, coupled with his sharp political instincts — his keen intellect — he shattered ceilings and … allowed members of the Jewish community to realize that we could do anything and could fully participate in government,” Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt said.
Gary Mandel, Mandel’s son, spoke of the former governor’s personal side — a man who loved to hunt and fish and a regular at Baltimore Colts football games and University of Maryland Terrapin sporting events.
“I want everybody to know that there was more than just a politician,” he said. “He was a father. He was a mentor, and he was a friend.”
Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich recalled how Mandel befriended him when he was a 28-year-old freshmen Republican.
“For me, he was pundit, adviser, mentor, friend, always there — even when inconvenient for him, which we all know is the true definition of a friend,” Ehrlich said.
Former Maryland Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who also once headed the NAACP, described Mandel as “a stalwart in the storm.”
“Small in stature, but big in belief, he played as hard as anyone until the clock on the scoreboard ran out,” Mfume, a Democrat, said.
Rep. Steny Hoyer noted Mandel’s vision for progress, which he said was matched by the political skills needed to accomplish his goals.
Mandel also was known for making national headlines when he was convicted in a political corruption case in 1977, serving 19 months in federal prison as a result. His sentence was commuted by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to time served, and the conviction was overturned in 1987. There also was his tumultuous personal life — including temporary exile from the governor’s mansion when he left his wife of 32 years to marry another woman.
“Like all of us, of course, he was not perfect, but he was perfectly prepared no matter the challenge to meet it, overcome it and move on,” Hoyer, a Democrat, said. “As so many of you have heard me retell his advice to me, he once told me: ‘You cannot go through life with a rear-view mirror.’ It was this inner strength and peace of mind that made him such a productive, admired and effective individual for each and every one of his 95 years. There was no quit in Marvin Mandel.”