Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Thomas E. Conlon (1883-1943)
MSA SC 3520-13100


Thomas E. Conlon was born June 27, 1883, in Toledo, Ohio, and attended schools there. He first came to Maryland at the age of 17 when he was employed by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, where he held various positions throughout his life. Conlon earned his law degree at the University of Baltimore in 1928, and began a private law practice. On May 27, 1908, he married Marcella Elizabeth Quigley of Pittsburgh, and the couple subsequently had three sons and three daughters. Known as a family man, Conlon once remarked that raising and educating his six children was his greatest achievement.

It was almost by accident that Conlon became involved in politics. In 1934 he took a trip to California in order to spend some time recuperating from an operation, and while he was away his friends in Maryland put his name on the ballot as a candidate for the State Legislature from Baltimore City. He won the election and was subsequently re-elected to the House in 1938 and 1942. Conlon was elected Speaker of the House of Delegates in 1939, and held that position until he left office in 1943.  He was known by his colleagues as quiet and decisive; someone who took his job seriously and tolerated little disorder in the House when he was Speaker. One of the first things he did as Speaker was to banish lobbyists from the floor of the House, which he accomplished over the persistent objections of the lobbyists.

Conlon was a sports enthusiast, who once played semi-pro baseball, and enjoyed watching football, baseball, and tennis. In his later years enjoyed playing golf on Sundays. His other hobbies included playing bridge and raising chickens and flowers. A Catholic, Conlon was a member of the All Saints Church, the Knights of Columbus, the Bar Association of Baltimore City and the Optimist Club.

When Conlon reached his fifties, he began having heart trouble, and on October 29, 1943, at the age of 60, he was stricken suddenly while presiding over a meeting of the Baltimore City Council, to which he had been elected President only months before. Governor Herbert R. O'Conor paid tribute to Conlon, saying that "Maryland has lost one of its most conscientious public officers in the passing of Thomas E. Conlon. He was an ideal and faithful public representative, and his passing saddens me greatly." He was survived by his widow and six children: Francis, Thomas, Jr., Joseph, Mary, Marcella, and Elizabeth.

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