Population control expert served in the Maryland House of Delegates in the 1960s
January 22, 2013|By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun
H. Fornos, who fled post-World War II Germany as a teen and became an
advocate for global population control after serving in the Maryland
House of Delegates, died of diabetic complications Jan. 16 at his home
in Basye, Va.
The former Davidsonville resident was 79.
Werner Horst Farenhold in Leipzig, Germany, he was separated from his
family during the World War II during Allied bombing when the apartment
building where the family lived was destroyed. In a 1993 article in
Current Biography, he recalled being trapped beneath rubble for three
days before a search party rescued him after hearing him tapping on
Nazi authorities later charged him with playing
with firecrackers on a church roof that led to "a plot to aid enemy
forces in locating the city." He was put in a political reform school
He related in the Current Biography article that in
July 1944 he escaped from the school "by hiding in the brake box of a
train transporting German troops to Normandy, France."
made several attempts to get into the United States," said a co-worker,
Hal Burdett, who lives in Annapolis. "In the first of these, he was
smuggled onto a troop ship by soldier friends, but was discovered by
Army officers who turned him over to German welfare workers while the
vessel was still docked in Bremerhaven."
He was then about 12
years old and made three additional attempts to hide on troop ships. He
twice got as far as New York and then reached Ohio. "An infantry
corporal had given him his address and told him to look him up if he
ever got to the States," Mr. Burdett said. "By the time Fornos reached
the address, the corporal had moved and there was no forwarding
address. He was again turned over to immigration officials and sent
Mr. Fornos remained determined to leave Germany. He hid
in a U.S. transport plane's baggage compartment and made it to Westover
Air Force Base in Massachusetts. Again he faced deportation when he was
Elizabeth L. Fornos, a church group member from
Newton, Mass., was visiting persons due for deportation at the East
Boston Immigration Detention Center. She and her husband, Jaime Fornos,
received permission to house him temporarily.
Mr. Burdett said
the couple thought the 16-year-old would be shipped back to East
Germany, then controlled by Russian authorities. They were joined by
neighbors and other groups in bringing the case to the attention of
U.S. Rep. Christian Herter. They lobbied successfully to have him
declared a legal immigrant. House of Representatives Majority Leader
John W. McCormack intervened, and he was declared an American citizen
by an act of Congress. He was subsequently adopted by the Fornoses and
changed his name to Werner Fornos, Mr. Burdett said.
He went on
to serve in the Army and was stationed in Fort Meade. He later bought a
small farm in Davidsonville and became a Pan American airlines public
relations spokesman. He ran successfully as Democrat for the Maryland
House of Delegates. He served from 1967 to 1970. Mr. Burdett recalled
that Mr. Fornos served on the environmental matters committee and
worked on Chesapeake Bay protection. He also advocated a second Bay
Bridge and led a fight to keep slot machines out of the state.
ran unsuccessfully for Anne Arundel county executive and in 1970 was
named assistant secretary for manpower in the state's Department of
Employment and Social Services. He also ran unsuccessfully for the
House of Representatives in 1972 and 1976.
Mr. Burdett said that
Mr. Fornos was advised by former Sen. Joseph Tydings to take a post at
the Washington, D.C., Planned Parenthood offices. He did and in 1982
also joined the Population Action Council, a division of the Population
Institute. He later became president of the Population Institute and
spoke out for world population stabilization.
"He was a
tremendous speaker and an energetic guy," Mr. Burdett said. "He was at
his best while on the road, talking to colleges and service
Following his retirement as president of the institute in 2005, he established Global Population Education.
was a leader in the forward march against excess fertility," said Rei
Ravenholt, a retired U.S. Agency for International Development global
population leader who lives in Seattle, Wash. "He had an indefatigable
pursuit for what he was interested in."
He received the 2003
United Nations Population Award and the 1991 Humanist of the Year Award
of the American Humanist Association.
A life celebration will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 2 at Bryce Mountain Lodge in Basye, Virginia.
include his life partner, Moyne Gross of Basye, Va.; a daughter,
Elizabeth Ann Kellerman of Stone Mountain, Ga.; two sons, Jaime Martin
Fornos of Queen Anne and Werner Fornos Jr. of Northampton, Pa.; his
partner's children, Jennifer Jeanne Gross of Branford, Conn., Paul
Edward Gross of Boulder, Colo., and Jon Gross of Moraga, Calif.; three
brothers, Karl Heinz Farenhold of Berlin, Germany, Joachim Farenhold
and Berbel Farenhold, both of Leipzig; a sister, Monika Farenhold of
Berlin; and 12 grandchildren.