Another death deserves mention here even though it happened back in May 2018. As the Baltimoreans well remember, Kevin Kamenetz, then Baltimore County Executive, had a fatal heart attack in the middle of a hard-fought primary campaign to become Maryland’s Democratic nominee for governor. I think we all felt we knew Kevin at Gilman — his was an oversized personality you could not not know. But Joe Howard kept up with Kevin in the years after, and his words at the time of his death were much appreciated. I’ll quote some excerpts from his email that went out over the ’75 wire.
“When Kevin was first elected County Executive, the County had lost a housing discrimination suit that was clearly legitimate and Kevin’s predecessors had tried to delay, tie the suit up in litigation, deny and disregard, etc. Kevin took an unpopular stance and agreed to settle the suit and implement key changes that still are helping people today.
I’ve seen Kevin go into the ‘Lions’ Den’ and face adversity head on. When Bethlehem Steel and the Southeast Baltimore County Industries closed, Kevin went to what we joked was “enemy territory” and told the people the truth that these industries were not returning; these people had not voted for Kevin and openly disliked him. He fought hard to give alternatives for those suffering from the economic gut punch. Kevin gained some of those peoples’ respect by fighting hard to introduce new industries and convince businesses to locate and/or relocate in Southeast Baltimore County to alleviate the pain. He did the right thing. He made us all proud.
I gained even greater respect for Kevin when, against advice and pressure, he made Baltimore County and Baltimore County government as diverse as possible; including many more minorities, women, etc. He wanted his administration to truly reflect the diverse community he represented.
He wasn’t always right or always eloquent but he worked hard to improve people’s lives. Kevin had a temper but it wasn’t because of arrogance or elitism; it was because he was passionate to make change that was good for all his constituents.
He was a good man, a man of character, a good husband, a good father, a caring person, a community leader and a fighter for the good. He was one who chose substance over style as long as the job was being done to improve peoples’ lives.
He loved his family, adored his friends and embraced his enemies.
I’ll miss you my friend; until we meet again.”
reported by Joe Hooper '75