Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Two-term Rockville councilman Haight dies at age 84

Remembered as honest and likable

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Richard ‘‘Dick” Roswell Haight, who served two terms on the Rockville City Council in the 1970s and was known as an ‘‘honest, likable gentleman” who enjoyed life and loved music, died July 9 at Fairfax Nursing Center. He was 84.

Haight had been active in Montgomery Village in the 1990s, often criticizing the Montgomery Village Foundation Board of Directors, according to reports published in The Gazette between 1995 and 1998. He and his wife had lived in the Horizon Run Condominium, according to the reports.

Haight moved to Manassas, Va., in 2006 with his wife Jean to be closer to family. They would have celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary on Aug. 5, according to obituary information provided by his family.

Attempts to reach family members for additional information were unsuccessful.

Haight was first elected to the council in 1974, serving with then-Mayor William E. Hanna Jr. When he decided not to run for a third term in 1978, his neighbor, John Tyner II, ran in his place and won.

‘‘He did his homework and worked very hard on the council,” Tyner, a current city planning commissioner, said of Haight. ‘‘We didn’t always agree on things, but he was a steady voice on the council for those years.”

While council members are non-partisan, Tom Lawrey, a longtime friend and political supporter of Haight, said Haight was conservative.

‘‘Politically, he was a Republican, and in this area at that time there was a pretty good mix of Republicans and Democrats,” Lawrey said. ‘‘He was on that side of many things.”

Aside from serving on the City Council, Haight was the owner of Watkins Appliances in Rockville, where he often helped low-income families obtain loans to buy appliances, Lawrey said.

Haight, who was also a lawyer, began practicing law full-time after closing Watkins Appliances in 1981.

Haight also loved music, especially Big Band. He learned to play the electric organ on his own, Lawrey said, often playing the instrument that was on sale at Watkins Appliances.

He was the president and founder of Over Twenty-one Inc., an organization dedicated to telling the truth about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs. Haight started the organization after his son William was killed in a drunken driving crash in 1981.

‘‘He was the kind of man who would take the time to talk to anybody. He didn’t care if it was a 5-year-old or a 90-year-old, he would stop and have a conversation in a very sensible way,” Lawrey said.