Richard Lelonek Sr., a retired railroad office worker and veteran Belair-Edison community activist, died July 21 at Maryland Shock Trauma Center of internal injuries related to an auto accident. He was 86 and lived in Northeast Baltimore.
Born in Canonsburg, Pa., and raised in Dundalk, he attended Sacred Heart of Mary School and graduated from Sparrows Point High School in 1944. He earned a law degree at the University of Baltimore and was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1957. He served in the Air Force.
He joined the old Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and remained with the company until retiring from the Chessie System. He worked in the personnel and statistical departments.
After running unsuccessfully for the City Council in 1975, Mr. Lelonek was appointed to a seat on the Baltimore City Planning Commission by Mayor William Donald Schaefer. He served until 1980.
He was the second president of the Belair-Edison Improvement Association, now Belair-Edison Community Association.
"He was all about good neighbors. It did not matter about the color of their skin or their religion," said Kelley Ray, a former president. "He was a rock in the neighborhood and in his church, too."
In 2002, Mayor Martin O'Malley signed a proclamation honoring Mr. Lelonek's many years of community service.
A reader of daily newspapers, he was also a prolific letter writer to The Baltimore Sun. He had more than 150 letters published in the past 20 years.
"In his letters, he didn't lean Democrat or Republican," said his son, Robert Lelonek of Bel Air. "He was about what was right for the people and for the city of Baltimore."
A Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Roman Catholic Shrine of the Little Flower Church, 3500 Belair Road, where he was a member and parish council member.
In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 60 years, the former Frances M. Doroba; another son, Richard L. Lelonek Jr. of White Marsh; three daughters, Victoria Taffe of Austin, Texas, Susan Hubbe of Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Margaret Ledwith of Kingsville; a brother, Francis Lelonek of Dundalk; two sisters, Dorothy Crane of Dundalk and Florence Michaelski of Leonardtown; and seven grandchildren.