Westminster Police Officer and Firefighter Elwood Kauffman, 88

Westminster Police Officer and Firefighter Elwood Kauffman, 88
John Elwood Kauffman October 6, 1931 – May 12, 2020

Friday, May 15, 2020 – by Westminster Fire Dept. Chaplain Kevin Dayhoff

It is with great sadness that the Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Co. No. 1 announces the passing of Westminster Fire Department Life Member Elwood Kauffman, 88. Kauffman passed away on Tuesday May 12, 2020.

  • At the family’s request, viewing will be on Friday, May 15, 2020 at the Westminster Fire Department at 28 John Street in Westminster Md. from 3:00 PM-5:00 PM. It will be a drive-through format.

Elwood was the beloved husband of Iris B. Kauffman, his wife of 35 years.

He served as a full time engineer for the Westminster Fire Department in the late 50’s – until 1959. He then worked for the Westminster and Howard County Police Departments.

He worked many years as a Deputy Md. State Fire Marshal FM-1 where he was an arson investigator in the Carroll and Howard County region. After his retirement from the Fire Marshal’s Office, Kaufman was a bailiff for Carroll County Circuit Court for over 12 years.

Kauffman was born in Carroll County on October 6, 1931 to the late Margaret Essich Kauffman and J. Ralph Kauffman.

He was a graduate of Westminster High School’s Class of 1949.

Kauffman was a former member of St. Benjamin’s Lutheran Church in Westminster. Upon moving to Plum Creek in Hanover, Pa, he attended Grace United Methodist in Hanover.

A drive-through visitation for Kauffman will be held on Friday, May 15, 2020 from 3 to 5 pm at Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Company 1, 28 John Street, Westminster. Upon arrival, please remain in your vehicle and staff will direct you.

A private funeral service will be held at 11 am on Saturday, May 16, 2020 at Pritts Funeral Home & Chapel, 412 Washington Road, Westminster with Deacon Charles Barnhart, Jr. officiating.

Private Interment will follow at Meadow Branch Cemetery in Westminster. Although attendance at Elwood’s funeral service will be limited to immediate family, other guests are welcome to join virtually or by phone.

The Nathan Chris Baker Foundation provides dinner to the Westminster Firefighters

The Nathan Chris Baker Foundation provides dinner to the Westminster Firefighters

The Nathan Chris Baker Foundation provides dinner to the Westminster Firefighters. Courtesy The Nathan Chris Baker Foundation.

On Friday, May 1, 2020: The Nathan Chris Baker Foundation had Genova’s pizza delivered to the Westminster Fire Department to thank them for their service and bring smiles to their faces as well.

On Friday, May 1, 2020: The Nathan Chris Baker Foundation had Genova’s pizza delivered to the Westminster Fire Department. Photo by Kevin Dayhoff
On Friday, May 1, 2020: The Nathan Chris Baker Foundation had Genova’s pizza delivered to the Westminster Fire Department. Photo by Kevin Dayhoff
On Friday, May 1, 2020: The Nathan Chris Baker Foundation had Genova’s pizza delivered to the Westminster Fire Department. Photo by Kevin Dayhoff

In a Facebook post, the foundation said, “‘Let’s all Go Out Be Great’ right now by spreading greatness through our community.”

On Friday, May 1, 2020: The Nathan Chris Baker Foundation had Genova’s pizza delivered to the Westminster Fire Department. Photo by Kevin Dayhoff

The Westminster Fire Department would like to express its thanks to The Nathan Chris Baker Foundation for its generous and thoughtful support at a difficult time. Stay safe – stay in the house. (Hat Tip: Jeff Leppert)

By Westminster Fire Department Chaplain and PIO Kevin Dayhoff May 1, 2020

The Westminster Fire Department remembers past Westminster Fire Department Chief Robert DuVall

April 23, 2004 – April 23, 2020 by Kevin Dayhoff

WW II Marine Veteran, Small Business Owner, Welder, and an Avid Motorcyclist

The Westminster Fire Department remembers past Westminster Fire Department Chief Robert DuVall

On Friday, April 23, 2004, Carroll County and the greater Westminster community suffered a great loss with the passing of Robert Emerson DuVall, 81, of Westminster.

He was a 1939 graduate of Westminster High School.

During World War II, he served with the 3rd Marines, 4th Air Wing in the Marshall Islands, Guam, and Pelilu.

During World War II, he served with the 3rd Marines, 4th Air Wing in the Marshall Islands, Guam, and Pelilu.

Mr. DuVall was born July 12, 1922, in Carroll County, he was the son of the late G. Wilmer and Mercedes Brown DuVall.

Surviving, in addition to his wife of 53 years, Leona Hammett DuVall, are daughter and son-in-law Donna and Robert Shaeffer of Westminster; son and daughter-in-law Robert Emerson DuVall II and Patsi DuVall of Atlanta; sister and brother-in-law Donna DuVall Sellman and Russell A. Sellman of Westminster. Granddaughters Nicole DuVall Pomeroy and husband Tim, and Laci DuVall Shaeffer; grandson Robert Emerson DuVall III; and great-grandson Daniel DuVall Pomeroy.

He was a 1939 graduate of Westminster High School. During World War II, he served with the 3rd Marines, 4th Air Wing in the Marshall Islands, Guam, and Pelilu.

He was the owner of Mobile Welding Service, which he founded in 1948. He was the 11th state certified welder in Maryland. 

An avid motorcyclist and trap shooter, he was the Maryland State Trapshooting Handicap Champion in 1966. He was a member of Westminster United Methodist Church, VFW Post 467 and a life member of North Carroll and Carroll County gun clubs. He was a past chief of Westminster Fire Department.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as they adjust to life without him. This Memorial Tribute by the Westminster Mayor, Common Council and the Staff of The City of Westminster on behalf of the citizens of the City of Westminster, was signed in Westminster City Hall, this April Twenty-fifth in the year Two Thousand and Four. Westminster Mayor Kevin Dayhoff

Set #1: https://www.facebook.com/kevindayhoff/posts/10219434529947509

Set #2: https://www.facebook.com/kevindayhoff/posts/10219434553668102

Brent Whalen provides lunches for the fire department

Friday, May 1, 2020 by Westminster Fire Department Chaplain and PIO Kevin Dayhoff

The Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Co. No. 1 would like to give a shout out to Brent Whalen for his generosity. Mr. Whalen, a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist at FitzGerald Financial Group, a division of Townebank, has provided lunch for the on duty and volunteer personnel 4 days in a row this week – so that he would be able to feed all four Westminster Fire Dept. shifts and as many folks as possible.

God Bless Mr. Whalen for his generous sport. (Hat Tip: Lt. Guy Garheart)

Early morning two-alarm fire injures one firefighter

Saturday morning – April 18, 2020 by Kevin Dayhoff Westminster Fire Department PIO and Chaplain.

An early morning two-alarm fire in a commercial building in the 1000 block of Baltimore Blvd. – Rte 140, injured one firefighter. The first call came in to the Emergency Communications Center at 2:18 a.m., for a report smoke coming from the side of building and fire being observed.

Units from Reese and Westminster fire departments were first on the scene in a steady light rain – with Reese taking command. Upon arrival firefighters preliminarily found a fire perhaps coming from the basement of the one-story commercial building. The building is reported to be under renovation.

Perhaps as many as 50-75 firefighters responded from Carroll County and Baltimore County. The fire was determined to be under control at 3:57 a.m. Although units remained on scene until 5 a.m. for clean-up and the help the fire marshal’s investigation. Preliminary observations indicate extensive damage to the interior of the building.

Baltimore Gas and Electric, the Maryland State Police, and the State Highway Administration also responded.

One 45-year-old volunteer firefighter with 25-years’ experience was injured fighting the fire. He was transported to Shock Trauma.

According to a release by the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal, “A Reisterstown Volunteer Fire Company (firefighter) sustained minor injuries after falling through the floor.”

By mid-day on Saturday, the Reisterstown Fire Department released a statement on the department website that said, “The injured firefighter is home recovering from minor injuries. We would like to thank everyone who has reached out to check on the firefighter.”

In a phone interview later in the afternoon, Reisterstown Fire Chief Craig Hewitt said that the firefighter, “was released from Shock Trauma this morning after some tests and observation. He has returned home and is recuperating from minor injuries. He is in good spirits. He is expected to recover and be back to work soon.”

The fire remains under investigation by the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Reese fire department PIO Robin Stansbury contributed to this story.

Westminster Fire Department thanks Weis Markets for the water and the Gatorade

Westminster Fire Department thanks Weis Markets for the water and the Gatorade

In the summertime firefighters and EMS providers go through a lot of water and Gatorade. It is not a luxury.

Westminster Md. June 6, 2019 – – The men and women of the Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Co. No. 1 would like to thank Weis Markets for donating water and Gatorade for the firefighters and EMS providers.

In the summertime firefighters and EMS providers go through a lot of water and Gatorade. It is not a luxury. When you spend long hours on automobile accidents, fires, and back-to-back EMS calls, staying hydrated is a critical life, safety, and welfare issue.

The best time to stay hydrated is yesterday.

According to Westminster Fire Department President Jamie Petry on Thursday, June 6, 2019, “Weis Markets is collecting water and Gatorade for WFD. Today we picked up almost 3 pallets of water and 2 grocery carts full of Gatorade” Petry added that the department really appreciates the support of the community – and Weis Markets. Thank you.

By Westminster Fire Department PIO and Chaplain Kevin Dayhoff

 

Westminster Fire Department Volunteer Recruitment Open House

Courtesy Westminster Fire Co. – Open House at Westminster Fire Company Sunday, April 14th, 2019 from 12 pm – 5 pm. 28 John Street, Westminster, MD 21158

Westminster Fire Department Volunteer Recruitment Open House

Open House at Westminster Fire Company Sunday, April 14th, 2019 from 12 pm – 5 pm. 28 John Street, Westminster, MD 21158.

By Westminster Fire Company PIO and Chaplain Kevin Dayhoff April 8, 2019

The Westminster Volunteer Fire Department will be participating in the Maryland State Fireman’s Association’s statewide recruitment event on Sunday April 14th at the station on John Street in Downtown Westminster. Station and Apparatus tours will be offered and personnel will be available to answer any questions about becoming a member. Stop by between 12-5 PM to start your journey as a volunteer.

Interested in joining our growing professional team? Our team is comprised of individuals of many walks of life. As is the fire service in a whole, WFD fosters a “family” environment. Challenge yourself, build new skills, meet new people, and become a part of a tight-knit public safety community all while serving a purpose greater than yourself.

Benefits: While most members will agree that there are many intangible benefits of membership, there are also several other valuable benefits available to volunteers.

Following three years of qualifying active membership, members are eligible for the LOSAP program: $4,500.00+ Maryland income tax credit. And: Monthly retirement stipend after 25 years of active volunteer membership.

FREE World-Class training provided. All turnout gear and equipment provided.
On-duty insurance coverage/Workers’ Compensation. Tuition reimbursement program for College/Technical School students.

Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Company
28 John Street
Westminster, MD 21158
Sunday, April 14th, 2019 from 12 pm – 5 pm
For more information call: (410) 848-1800

Westminster Fire Company Open House recruitment Family Friendly

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Open House at Westminster Fire Company Sunday, April 14th, 2019 from 12 pm – 5 pm. 28 John Street, Westminster, MD 21158. https://www.facebook.com/events/2251279838417988/

https://patch.com/maryland/westminster/westminster-fire-department-volunteer-recruitment-open-house

Westminster Fire Company annual Big Money Raffle slated for May 23, 2019

Big Money Raffle Chances are now available for the raffle with the drawing on May 23, 2019.

By Westminster Fire Company PIO and Chaplain Kevin Dayhoff, kdayhoff@westminstervfd.org April 1, 2019

The Carroll County carnival and fire department fund raising season starts in May when the Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Co. No. 1 hosts its annual ‘Big Money Raffle.’

The raffle is one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for the Westminster Fire Company. This year’s event takes place on Thursday, May 23, 2019, from 6 to 9 pm in the engine bays at the station at 28 John Street in Westminster.

In addition to the cash drawings there will be plenty of fried chicken, hot dogs, and all the traditional summer picnic delights. It has become an annual tradition for friends, family, and neighbors to fill the fire station for a fun evening.

It is not known how many years the Westminster Fire Company has held this raffle, but the idea is certainly not new. Many years ago, the fire company gave away a Cadillac as the first prize.

According to research by historian Jay Graybeal, an article from January 1896 in the Historical Society of Carroll ‘J. Leland Jordan Collection,’ reports:

“In 1840 the citizens petitioned the legislature to pass an act enabling them to hold a lottery to raise $5,000 to purchase a new fire engine, build a new engine-house, town hall and market-house, but nothing came of it.”

There are only 3000 tickets printed. The cost per ticket is $10.00 each. There will be 14 winners – with a top prize of $ 10,000; 2nd prize is $ 2,000. 3rd prize is $1,000.

Refreshments are for ticket holders only. You do not need to be present to win. There will be 50/50 raffle tickets, and other games of chance available during the evening.

The Westminster Fire Department extends its appreciation to the following local Carroll County businesses for sponsoring the cash prizes: InfoPathways, Baugher’s Restaurant, Myers-Durboraw Funeral Home, Barnes Bollinger Insurance, Pritts Funeral Home, B&D Truck Hoist, Johanssons & O’Lordans, Ain’t That A Frame, The Cutting Garden, Hock Auto Upholstering, Haines Realty, Affordable Auto Maryland LLC, and C&O Distributors.

The Westminster Fire Department would also like to thank the following corporate sponsors for their support: RBC Wealth Management, Gauge Digital Media, Sams Creek Porta Pots, Penguin Random House, Westminster Car Care, Flowers by Evelyn, Chick-fil-A, Perry’s Vending, Swain Supply, Hughes Trash Removal, Canteen Vending, Brewer’s Market, Rafael’s Restaurant, Maggie’s Restaurant, and the Jeannie Bird Baking Company.

The tickets were printed compliments of Fletcher Funeral Home & Cremation Services, P.A. 410.848.7575, 254 E. Main Street, Westminster, MD 21157 www.fletcherfunerahome.net

Call the Westminster Fire Department at 410-848-1800 for more information.

Sunday afternoon fire heavily damages home in Finksburg

Sunday afternoon fire heavily damages home in Finksburg

Sunday, March 24, 2019 by Kevin Dayhoff, kevindayhoff@gmail.com

The recent arrival of spring has kept Carroll County firefighters and emergency responders busy with a number of recent serious house fires in the area. On Sunday

Firefighters from Westminster, Reese, Pleasant Valley, Gamber, Hampstead, and Sykesville companies were dispatched to the house fire in the 2800 block of Armacost Avenue in Finksburg Sunday afternoon, March 24. Kevin Dayhoff photo.

the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal reported, “Deputy State Fire Marshals … stay busy Saturday with a total of three investigations in less than sixteen hours…”

That was before yet another house fire occurred on Sunday afternoon. Firefighters from Carroll and Baltimore Counties responded to a report to the Carroll County Emergency Communications Center of a house fire in the 2800 block of Armacost Avenue, off of Old Westminster Pike and Route 140, in Finksburg, at approximately 2 o’clock.

Over 50 firefighters from Westminster, Reese, Pleasant Valley, Gamber, Hampstead, and Sykesville companies were dispatched in addition to firefighters from Reisterstown, Owings Mills, Franklin, Chestnut Ridge, and Glyndon in Baltimore County according to Gamber Fire Company assistant Chief Alan Barnes. The Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal and Baltimore Gas and Electric also responded and the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office provided assistance.

It was reported that the smoke from the fire was visible from as far away as across the reservoir in Baltimore County. Upon arrival, Barnes discovered active fire coming from the rear of a two-story single family home with a basement.

The family was home at the time. According to Gamber PIO Clay Myers, the family was in the basement at the time of the fire and managed to safely escape.

Firefighters secure a ladder to the roof at a house fire in the 2800 block of Armacost Avenue in Finksburg Sunday afternoon, March 24. Photo courtesy of the Westminster Fire Company.

A rapid intervention dispatch and a water tanker taskforce was immediately requested by Barnes. Myers reported that “Tankers from several companies set up a water shuttle and a draft site was established at Dede Road.”

The fire quickly spread throughout the house. The fire was brought under control 45-minutes later at approximately 2:45 p.m. No firefighters were injured fighting the fire. The fire remains under investigation by the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal.

The fire is estimated to have caused $250,000.00 worth of damage to the structure and another $125,000.00 damage to the contents of the house. Observations from the street indicate that the house is a total loss. Friends and neighbors gathered quickly to assist and support the displaced family.

“This is about the third house fire in the Finksburg – Gamber area in the past several days,” said Barnes during the extensive cleanup after the fire. Fire crews stayed at the fire ground for about two-hours assisting the homeowners and the fire marshals; and cleaning-up and putting away equipment.

Other recent fires include a garage fire in the 1000 block of Cindy Lane in Westminster on March 23. That fire caused an estimated $25,000.00 in damage Approximately 40 firefighters fought the blaze. The lead fire company at that fire was the Gamber and Community Fire Company.

On March 20, a fire occurred at a two-story vacant home in the 2900 block of Hughes Rod in Finksburg, causing approximately $60,000.00 in damage. Again, the Gamber fire company was the lead agency fighting that fire. About 30 firefighters responded. It took over 30-minutes to put out that fire.

Many folks on social media have been alarmed by the recent number of fires. One comment, “omg what is causing all these fires,” was reflective of many of the responses to the recent house fires. All the recent fires remain under investigation by the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal. Firefighters at the fire on Sunday afternoon, who have responded to all the recent fires, said on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment, that all the fires appeared to be vastly different in origin and no pattern could be detected. It just seemed to be a statistical anomaly – a coincidence. No one seemed alarmed – just very hungry, dirty, and tired.

Westminster fire company firefighter EMS Sergeant Emily Morris on the left, and Lt. Kim Zepp Darby carry equipment back to the Tower 3 after exiting from an interior fire suppression attack at the house fire in the 2800 block of Armacost Avenue in Finksburg Sunday afternoon, March 24. Kevin Dayhoff photo.

“The fire service reminds folks to stay vigilant about fire safety and be sure that your smoke alarms are properly functioning,” said Barnes as he was leaving the scene. A point that was reinforced in a phone interview with Gamber PIO Bruce Bouch, who wanted to remind citizens that you can never let your guard down when it comes to fire safety. Westminster fire company officials also cautioned folks to stay fire safe as the weather gets warmer and people get busier outdoors.

Times correspondent Kevin Dayhoff is also the chaplain, assistant secretary, and PIO for the Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Co. No. 1.

Related: Family displaced following Finksburg fire by Catalina Righter March 25, 2019

Over 50 firefighters from Carroll and Baltimore County took 45-minutes to fight a house fire in the 2800 block of Armacost Avenue in Finksburg Sunday afternoon, March 24. Photo courtesy of the Westminster Fire Company.

A family escaped from a blaze that seriously damaged a Finksburg home on Sunday, March 24. No injuries were reported to civilians or firefighters.

“This is about the third house fire in the Finksburg–Gamber area in the past several days,” said Gamber Fire Company Assistant Chief Alan Barnes during the extensive cleanup after the fire. Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire said that the fires are completely unrelated and are being investigated separately.

Read more here: https://www.carrollcountytimes.com/news/crime/cc-armacost-fire-finksburg-20190325-story.html

https://www.facebook.com/kevindayhoff/posts/10216075876023260

 

John H. Cunningham was a charter member of the Md. State Fireman’s Assoc.

John H. Cunningham, from the Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Co. No. 1, was a charter member of the Md. State Fireman’s Association and served on the Executive Board and Officers Committee from1898 – 1899. Courtesy of the Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Co. No. 1.

John H. Cunningham was a charter member of the Md. State Fireman’s Assoc.

At the time of his death, Cunningham “was believed to be McDaniel – Western Maryland College’s oldest living alumnae… and the State’s only living charter member of the Maryland State Fireman’s Association

When John Cunningham died, he was America’s Oldest Banker in Years of Continuous Service. He was a lifelong member of the Westminster Fire Engine and Hose co. No. 1.

February 24, 2019 by Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Co. No 1 Chaplain Kevin Dayhoff

It is only fitting and appropriate that from time to time we take a moment to remember some of the many great Carroll Countians that have gone before us.

On December 31, 1965, John Cunningham passed away within a few hours of 99th birthday. Local historian Jay Graybeal wrote of “his rich life, including his interests in bicycling, walking and poker,” in a March 16, 1997 column in the Carroll County Times.

An earlier shorter version of this story appeared in the Carroll County Times on January 13th, 2019. Please find the article here: https://www.carrollcountytimes.com/columnists/features/cc-lt-dayhoff-011319-story.html. This version of a story about Mr. Cunningham is the long version with all the edits restored.

Finding a picture of Mr. Cunningham has been nearly impossible – except, I did finally find a picture of him at the Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Co. No. 1 – although the picture was damaged by the April 6, 1906 H. H. Harbaugh’s Palace Livery Stable fire. The livery stable and residence was located next to the Fire House on East Main St in Westminster. The fire, which destroyed the huge building, also burned a portion of the Westminster fire station and the Westminster city offices that were located on the second floor of the station.

To put 1965 and the mid-1960s into some perspective, our country was just beginning a new phase of the Vietnam War; with the introduction of the first combat troops on February 9, 1965. Before we had, “advisors” engaged in the conflict. Later in the year, on November 14, the Battle of the Ia Drang began in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. It was the first major engagement of the war between regular American and North Vietnamese forces. Shortly afterwards, the pentagon told President Lyndon Johnson that the number of troops needed to be increased from 120,000 to 400,000.

John H. Cunningham, from the Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Co. No. 1, was a charter member of the Maryland State Fireman’s Association and served on the Executive Board and Officers Committee from1898 – 1899. Please note that the picture was damaged by the April 6, 1906 H. H. Harbaugh’s Palace Livery Stable fire. The livery stable and residence was located next to the Fire House on East Main St in Westminster. The fire, which destroyed the huge building, also burned a portion of the Westminster fire station and the Westminster city offices that were located on the second floor of the station. Courtesy of the Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Co. No. 1.

At home, the Civil Rights movement was on the forefront of many as around 1965 was the last year that restaurants and such were segregated in Westminster. Malcolm X was assassinated in New York at the Audubon Ballroom on February 21.

Bloody Sunday had occurred on March 7 as 600 civil rights marchers were attacked by state and local police with billy clubs and tear gas. Led by Martin Luther King, Jr. civil rights marchers were finally successful, after three attempts, to walk from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama. On August 6, President Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

It was 1964 that Carroll County administrator George Grier went to New York to begin negotiations with Random House to build a book distribution center in Westminster. At that time in the negotiations, adequate supplies of water was a sticking point, among many issues that were subsequently ironed out before the facility opened on July 14, 1967, according to “From Our Front Porch,” a history of Carroll County from 1900-1999, by Jim Lee.

And oh in 1964 ice cream cost 89 cents per half gallon

Graybeal shared with us Cunningham’s obituary, which appeared on January 1, 1966, in an unidentified newspaper. The obituary began: “John H. Cunningham, believed to have been the oldest banker in the United States, died yesterday at his home… His wife, the former Mary Irwin, died in 1949… He was a past master of the Masonic order and was a member of the Westminster Church of Christ.”

Cunningham was born on New Year’s Day in 1867. According to his obit, “On January 1, 1885, while a senior at Western Maryland College, Mr. Cunningham began his banking career as a clerk with the Farmers and Mechanics National Bank, [at 105 E. Main St. in Westminster] following the footsteps of his father William, who was a clerk there.”

He worked in the same office, with the same employer for his entire life – from 1885 until when he passed away in 1965. “Many days he walked the mile to work from his home at 95 West Green Street.”

Graybeal reported; “His long career in banking was recognized by a telegram from President Kennedy in 1963.”

The telegram said: “Congratulations on being named by your friends and associates in Westminster and Carroll County as “America’s Oldest Banker in Years of Continuous Service.” Your 77 years record as a banker is certainly an impressive one and you deserve all the honors, which have been given you…”

He was well-known for his punctuality and folklore attests that “fellow employees reportedly set their watches by him,” as he would arrive at his desk “every working day promptly at 9 a.m. and would not leave until 3 in the afternoon…” It was also noted “that Mr. Cunningham had not missed a town meeting in Westminster since 1883, the year he became old enough to vote.

Cunningham played poker every Tuesday night between 7 and 11 p.m. sharp, at “Thelma Hoffman’s restaurant at 216 E. Main Street [later known as Cockey’s Tavern] in Westminster.” Among his partners were Ben Thomas, Paul Whitmore, Miller Richardson, Ralph Bonsack, Frank Leidy, Theodore Brown and Norman Boyle.”

Cunningham was also well known for his New Year’s Day tradition of an all day poker game, “that began promptly at 11 a.m., broke for dinner at 5 p.m., then resumed until 11 p.m.”

At the time of his death, Cunningham “was believed to be Western Maryland College’s oldest living alumnae… and the State’s only living charter member of the Maryland State Fireman’s Association.”

The January 1, 1966 obituary reported that: “Cunningham’s interest in politics was rewarded during the Coolidge Administration with his appointment in 1923 as Surveyor of Customs at Baltimore, a post he held for nine years. In 1911, Mr. Cunningham ran unsuccessfully for State Comptroller.”

“Beside politics and poker, Mr. Cunningham loved walking. On weekends as late as 1964, he hiked along country roads, a white handkerchief tied to his cane, for safety.”

When he was 97 years old, he explained in a November 1964 interview: “I only walk half as far and about half as fast as I used to… It’s a strain to walk more than 4 or 5 miles…”

“In his earlier days… [he] was a bicyclist of renown… According to a banker’s association bulletin, in 1898 he bicycled 200 miles from Westminster to Atlantic City, N.J…” He waited to give up driving until he was approximately 92 years old.

An earlier shorter version of this story appeared in the Carroll County Times on January 13th, 2019. Please find the article here: https://www.carrollcountytimes.com/columnists/features/cc-lt-dayhoff-011319-story.html. This version of a story about Mr. Cunningham is the long version with all the edits restored.

In full disclosure, I met Cunningham in the early 1960s upon the occasion of one of his visits to City Hall to talk with City of Westminster Mayor Joseph L. Mathias who served on the Westminster Common Council May 1927 to May 1937 and Mayor from May 18, 1942 to December 3, 1963. To the best of my knowledge, I have only written about Cunningham a couple of times. Most notably, a portion of this column was previously published in 2006.

Carroll County is fortunate to have many great community leaders still with us. We should all take time to pause and thank them for their service to our community – whether we agree with them or disagree.

Every one of them is working hard to meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. In 2019, may we all work hard to rekindle a renewed sense of civility and have as full and vigorous a life as Mr. John Cunningham – playing poker, bicycling and walking many four or five miles is optional. God Bless and Happy New Year.

https://patch.com/maryland/westminster/cunningham-was-charter-member-md-st-fireman-s-assoc