Wal­ter Chit­wood, ad­viser to county ex­ec­u­tives, dies

The Capital - - FRONT PAGE - By Fred­er­ick N. Ras­mussen fred.ras­[email protected]­sun.com

Wal­ter N. Chit­wood III, a long­time ad­viser to sev­eral Anne Arun­del County ex­ec­u­tives who had a se­cond ca­reer as an ed­u­ca­tor, died Jan. 5 from com­pli­ca­tions of a se­ries of strokes at Hospice of the Ch­e­sa­peake in Har­wood. The Annapolis res­i­dent was 70.

“Wal­ter was a strong-willed per­son,” said Janet S. Owens, a Demo­crat of Crownsville who served as Anne Arun­del County ex­ec­u­tive from 1998 to 2006.

“When Wal­ter worked for me, he was a trou­bleshooter, and as a trou­bleshooter you could al­ways trust him to do the job, and he was trusted by every­one in and out of gov­ern­ment,” Owens said. “He al­ways wanted to do what was best for the county and the re­gion. He was just an ex­cep­tional hu­man be­ing.

“In all the years I knew Wal­ter, we never dis­cussed pol­i­tics. It was al­ways about some­thing that would help the county. That was his con­cern,” she said.

“He was a pure pub­lic ser­vant who was not crip­pled by po­lit­i­cal at­ti­tudes. Peo­ple would turn to Wal­ter,” said Rick H. Wade of Arnold, a friend of more than 40 years and a for­mer Cap­i­tal Gazette re­porter who re­tired as se­nior vice pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Hos­pi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion.

“Wal­ter went on to be­come one of the most re­spected fig­ures in county and state gov­ern­ment. A man not of pol­i­tics but of the pas­sion for what gov­ern­ment ad­min­is­tered with in­tegrity, fair­ness and ded­i­ca­tion could do for the lives of the peo­ple it served,” Wade wrote in an email.

The son of Wal­ter N. Chit­wood Jr., a ca­reer Navy chief, and Eleanor Clara Chit­wood, a long­time Anne Arun­del County pub­lic school ed­u­ca­tor, Wal­ter New­ton Chit­wood III was born in San Diego and moved to Annapolis shortly af­ter his birth, and fi­nally to Arnold.

“His mother drove Wal­ter and his old­est sis­ter in 1948 across the coun­try alone to Annapolis be­cause her hus­band was ship­ping out and not be sta­tioned in San Diego any longer,” said his wife of 40 years, the for­mer Jane MacDougall, a re­tired Anne Arun­del County li­brar­ian and me­dia spe­cial­ist.

A 1966 grad­u­ate of Sev­erna Park High School, where he was a noted scholar ath­lete and later was in­ducted into the school’s ath­letic hall of fame, he en­tered Wheaton Col­lege in Wheaton, Ill., which he at­tended on an ROTC schol­ar­ship, and played foot­ball. He later ob­tained a mas­ter’s de­gree in pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion from the Uni­ver­sity of Bal­ti­more.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Wheaton in 1970 with a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in po­lit­i­cal science, Chit­wood was com­mis­sioned a lieu­tenant in the Army’s Air­borne Rangers and sent to Viet­nam in 1971, as­signed to the 3rd Squad of the 6th Ar­mored Cav­alry, the same unit in which Gen­eral John J. “Black Jack” Per­sh­ing be­gan his mil­i­tary ca­reer in 1886.

“I en­joyed many as­pects of the Army and Viet­nam,” Chit­wood told The Evening Sun in a 1975 in­ter­view. “You can’t match the ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing a pla­toon leader, of guid­ing 40 men and be­ing re­spon­si­ble for them.

“It was a great chal­lenge and I think we have to break out of the shell where we say that the mil­i­tary can’t think, that ev­ery­thing mil­i­tary is ar­bi­trary and that dis­ci­pline is given with­out com­pas­sion or un­der­stand­ing,” he said.

“Wal­ter never re­ally talked about Viet­nam,” Owens said.

“He came back from Viet­nam and wanted to do pub­lic ser­vice, and he had a sense of fair­ness to all of those who needed it,” Wade said. “How can I help you, this was the at­ti­tude he brought to pub­lic ser­vice. He didn’t care about job ti­tles or be­ing in the spot­light.”

Af­ter be­ing dis­charged in 1974, Chit­wood, whose dec­o­ra­tions in­cluded two Pur­ple Hearts and a Bronze Star, re­turned to Annapolis, where he be­came Re­pub­li­can can­di­date Robert A. Pas­cal’s “shadow,” ac­cord­ing to The Evening Sun pro­file, dur­ing his cam­paign for county ex­ec­u­tive.

Chit­wood’s role was jot­ting down notes in a care­fully or­ga­nized note­book and mak­ing sure that Pas­cal kept on sched­ule and rea­son­ably on time.

The two men be­came ac­quainted when Chit­wood, who was then 14, played foot­ball on the Sev­erna Park Green Hor­nets, coached by Pas­cal, and they re­mained close dur­ing Chit­wood’s high school and col­lege years.

“They be­came close friends, per­haps closer than most coaches and play­ers, since Chit­wood’s fa­ther, a ca­reer Navy man, had died when Wal­ter was just 12 years old,” re­ported The Evening Sun.

“Bob Pas­cal had four daugh­ters, and I think he thought of Wal­ter as be­ing a son,” said Wade, who also worked in the Pas­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion with Chit­wood.

“He was just one heck of a kid, and he had a great ca­reer,” said Pas­cal, now a St. Michaels farmer.

When Pas­cal won the elec­tion, Chit­wood was plan­ning to re-en­list in the Army, but his for­mer coach per­suaded him to take a job in his ad­min­is­tra­tion as head of the Bureau of Com­mu­nity and In­dus­trial Af­fairs, which was ba­si­cally the county’s “com­plaint bureau,” ob­served The Evening Sun.

“Wal­ter had en­thu­si­asm and it was al­ways, ‘Let’s do it right.’ He was in­spi­ra­tional,” Pas­cal said. “I think peo­ple were al­ways happy to be in his thoughts. He did not rest and al­ways wanted to talk about any­thing you wanted to talk about or pro­mote.”

In ad­di­tion to work­ing for Pas­cal and Owens, Chit­wood held a va­ri­ety of staff po­si­tions, in­clud­ing chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer, county con­troller and chief of sev­eral other agen­cies with O. James Lighthizer, a Demo­crat who was county ex­ec­u­tive from 1982 to 1990, and Re­pub­li­can Robert R. Neall, who led the county from 1990 to 1994.

He also had served as a bud­get an­a­lyst with the state gov­ern­ment, and dur­ing these years, had joined the fac­ul­ties of Anne Arun­del Com­mu­nity Col­lege and Wash­ing­ton Col­lege in Chestertown, where he was an ad­junct pro­fes­sor in eco­nomics and gov­ern­ment.

In 1997, Chit­wood, who was work­ing as a bud­get an­a­lyst at Anne Arun­del Com­mu­nity Col­lege, was ap­pointed Annapolis’ chief ad­min­is­tra­tor by Mayor Dean L. John­son, a po­si­tion he held for lit­tle more than a year, fam­ily mem­bers said.

Chit­wood re­tired from Anne Arun­del County Com­mu­nity Col­lege in 2014, and his last of­fi­cial work with Anne Arun­del County gov­ern­ment was with Owens, Wade said.

“He was a bud­get an­a­lyst for Prince Ge­orge’s County un­til leav­ing that post in 2012,” Jane Chit­wood said.

An out­doors­man, Chit­wood en­joyed tak­ing or con­duct­ing na­ture walks with fam­ily and friends in the nearby woods to his home. He was also an avid reader of his­tory, pol­i­tics and bi­ogra­phies.

A me­mo­rial ser­vice will be held at 11 a.m. Mon­day at the John M. Tay­lor Fu­neral Home, 147 Duke of Glouces­ter St., Annapolis.

In ad­di­tion to his wife of 40 years, he is sur­vived by two sons, Ryan Chit­wood, of Annapolis, and Ian Gold­berg, of Philadel­phia; a daugh­ter, Carri Browne, of Copen­hagen; a sis­ter, Eleanor Ann Boyd, of Sher­mans Dale, Penn­syl­va­nia; and five grand­chil­dren.

COUR­TESY PHOTO

Wal­ter N. Chit­wood III served in the Army and was a pla­toon leader in Viet­nam.

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