Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Harry R. Hughes (1926-2019)
MSA SC 3520-1488

Extended Biography:

Born in Easton, Maryland, November 13, 1926. Attended Mercersberg Academy in Pennsylvania and Mount St. Mary's College, Emmitsburg; University of Maryland, B.A., 1949; George Washington University School of Law, LL.B., 1952. Admitted to the bar, 1952. Married Patricia M. Donoho, 1951; two daughters: Ann and Elizabeth. Died on March 13, 2019 in Denton, Marland..

General Assembly:
House of Delegates, Caroline County, 1955-58. Maryland Senate, Caroline County, 1959-66; District 15, 1967-70; Democrat. Majority Floor Leader, 1965; Chairman, Finance Committee.

Private Career and Other Public Service:
U.S. Navy Air Corps, World War II. Professional baseball player, New York Yankees' Easton Farm Club and Federalsburg Independent Team. Secretary, Department of Transportation, 1971-79. Practiced law, Denton; partner, Miles & Stockbridge, Baltimore, 1977. Governor, 1979-87.

Personal Comments and Observations:
"There were two 'most controversial' issues that I 'dealt with' in the the Senate. One was the civil rights battles of the 1960's. For a Senator from the Eastern Shore, these were particularly controversial political issues. Senator Mary Nock (D-Wicomico) and I were the only Senators out of nine from the Shore to vote for all civil rights legislation of the 60's. One response to my votes on these issues was an anonymous phone call to my wife, who was home with our two small children, threatening to burn our home. I called the police and rushed home from Annapolis, but we were never able to identify the caller.

"The other 'most controversial' issue I 'dealt with' was legislation to outlaw slot machines in Maryland. This battle was drawn out over a few years because the legislation phased out slot machines over three or four years.  Every year there were hard fought battles to extend the phase-out. In the middle of these years, I became majority floor leader with the responsibility to resist the extensions, which we successfully did.

"There were two very 'humorous moments' during my days in the Senate, both of which involved panic in the Senate chamber and occurred during the 1960's.

"The first occurred late on a Saturday afternoon near the end of the session. Senators were tired and irritable.  Senators Lapides and Bishop were engaged in a very long debate on the floor. State Trooper Hank Cumberland approached me and whispered that they had received a phone call stating that there was a bomb in the State House. As Majority Floor Leader, I advised President William James of the threat, stating it might be a hoax, but no one was sure. He said, 'let's wait.' After a little while, I again talked to the President, pleading that we could not make the decision for the Senate but must advise the Senators so that they could decide for themselves if the call was a hoax. He was terribly tired and irritated at the endless talking and arguments taking place and replied, 'I don't care if the S.O.B.'s blow up.' I said I don't either, but we must tell the Senate and I did. No sooner had the word 'bomb' left my lips when complete panic broke out, with Senators running, scrambling, and climbing over chairs and sofas along the walls to get to the doors.  Fortunately, no one was hurt. The President and I decided we now had a new strategy for ending prolonged and boring debate, but we obviously never used it.

"The second humorous moment took place as Senator Malkus and I were debating some issue I have long since forgotten. (I might say it was not unusual for the two of us to be engaged in a floor debate.) Suddenly there was a terrible noise emanating from above that sounded very much like the Tiffany glass ceiling was breaking apart and falling. Again, there was a panic in the Senate with all members scrambling for the doors, leaving only Senator Malkus and me standing there staring at each other and Senator Bertorelli, who was disabled and could not move from his seat. The next day I spoke to Senator Sanford's wife, Elizabeth, who was sitting on a sofa next to a Methodist minister waiting to give the opening prayer. Her wrist was in a cast and I asked her what had happened.  She replied, rather loudly, that in the panic the day before, Senator Pine had run out of the Senate chamber into the hall and 'knocked me right on my ass and broke my wrist.' The minister's face rather rapidly turned a fairly deep shade of red.

"It is difficult for me to identify my most 'significant contribution to the Maryland Senate' without some lack of modesty. It would be better for others to make that determination. However, I can mention a team effort, of which I was a part, that significantly changed, expanded and improved the resources of the Senate, as well as the House of Delegates. Senate President William S. James, Senator Blair Lee, Dr. Paul Cooper (Director of Fiscal Services) and I visited the California legislature in the 1960's to observe their legislative staffing, both as to numbers and organization. As a result, we initiated a successful effort to increase the staff of the Department of Fiscal Services, give it independence from Legislative Reference and transfer to Fiscal Services from the Executive Department the State Auditor's functions.  These changes and increased resources have proved extremely helpful to both houses of the legislature in carrying out their responsibilities as a separate and third branch of government."

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