Richard Childress, Baltimore Sun
Term: 1943 to 1947
The affable boy orator from South Baltimore, Republican Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin was mayor of Baltimore and Maryland governor. He was known for always wearing a black-eyed Susan in the lapel of his suit jacket, and for his ability to connect with people from all walks of life. He was elected in 1943 to his first mayoral term when he defeated Democratic incumbent Howard W. Jackson by more than 20,000 votes and again in 1963, when he defeated Philip H. Goodman. McKeldin served two terms as governor from 1951 to 1959, when he defeated the incumbent Democrat, William Preston Lane Jr., in 1950.
A civil rights activist of stature, McKeldin was able to get a civil rights bill, Ordinance 103, by the City Council. He signed the measure on Feb. 26, 1964 -- ahead of the national civil rights bill signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson later that year. McKeldin's guaranteed equal employment opportunities, education, public accommodation, housing and welfare.
Historians have said that because of Ordinance 103, Baltimore was largely spared the urban turmoil that swept most American cities in the early 1960s, until the 1968 riots which came in the wake of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. McKeldin is also credited with appointing the city's first African-American school board member.
Other mayoral achievements included the construction of Friendship Airport (now BWI-Thurgood Marshal Airport), Liberty Dam, a new tuberculosis wing at City Hospital, the Civic Center, putting in place the city's slum clearance program, updating the out-of-date City Charter, and the waterfront urban renewal that eventually led to today's redeveloped Inner Harbor.
At his death at 73, then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer described him as "a man who scaled the tallest heights, but he never lost the common touch. Mr. McKeldin loved people and the city and, in a way, he belonged to each of us."
He served his second term as mayor of Baltimore from 1963 to 1967, when he retired from public life and resumed his law practice. McKeldin is buried in Greenmount Cemetery.
Pictured: Two McKeldins, former Governor Theodore R. and his son Theodore Jr., wore traditional garb at St. Andrew's Dinner at the Lord Baltimore Hotel Nov. 29, 1962.