by Lisa Tome
Austin Amos was never one to keep his opinion to himself.
Whether it was during a fire company meeting or a town meeting where Amos served as a mayor and commissioner in Perryville, he let people know what he thought.
"We didn't always agree. But we always stayed friends," said former Perryville mayor and county commissioner Oakley A. Sumpter, Jr. "He had his own opinions about everything."
Amos, 79, of Perryville, died Thursday, Sept. 5.
He leaves behind a grieving family - wife of 59 years, Anna Lee, daughter Anna, and sons Dale and Alan and a community which mourns the loss of a man who was involved in so many organizations that family members only learned of some of them after his death.
Amos joined the Community Fire Company of Perryville in 1952. He was a life member and served as president of the company for more than a decade. He was also a board of director and held many positions within the company.
"He was fire company all the way. But he may not have always shown it," said Sue Hornbarger, Chaplain for the Community Fire Company of Perryville.
Carl Ewing is a 50 plus year member of the fire company. "He did a good job around the firehouse. In 1968 when we built the building (fire house on Route 7), he was in there painting with us. He did everything around the fire house. He was a good man," said Ewing.
Mike Jones joined the fire company in 1974. He considered Amos a mentor. "He would let you know what he thought. He wouldn't hold anything back," said Jones.
Amos was past president of the Harford-Cecil Volunteer Fireman's Association. He was inducted into both the Harford-Cecil Fireman's Hall of Fame and the Maryland State Fireman's Hall of Fame. Professionally, he worked at Perry Point VA Medical Center for more than 30 years doing painting and maintenance. He also held a few side jobs over the years, one of which was as a Perryville Police Officer.
Lloyd Singleton was the police chief and Amos' boss in the late 1960s and early 1970s. "During Hurricane Agnes, we (he and Amos) evacuated people from the residential area," said Singleton. "He never gave up on anything he set out to do. He was very straight forward with everything he did. He was an extreme community man with the fire department, law enforcement, and as mayor and commissioner," said Singleton, who is also a lifelong friend of Amos. In later years, they worked together developing the Perryville Appreciation Days Parade.
Sumpter was also a longtime friend.
"I met him in the 1940s. We played sandlot football in Perry Point. He was a great family man. They were the light of his life," said Sumpter. Amos served as mayor in the 1990s and was a town commissioner in both the 1970s and the 1990s. When he wasn't serving on the board, he was still a participant, frequently commenting from the back of the meeting room.
Tim Tolbert is a former town commissioner who also served with Amos.
"He was community oriented. He cared about the Town of Perryville. He was concerned and cared about the community. There will be a void there," said Tolbert.
Steve Pearson is also a former Perryville mayor who served for nearly a dozen years. He said Amos nominated him to become a town board member. "When you consider all he's been involved in, his service to the community is second to none. It's unbelievable and unmatched. I don't know anyone who has done so many things for the community. He came here from Harford County and adopted Perryville as his hometown," said Pearson. "At times we saw things in a different light. But nothing can take away his service to the community. He will be missed."
Amos was also a member of the Sons of the American Legion for Post 135, and a member of two Masonic Lodges, and was a Mason for more than 40 years.
While he was all business within his organizations, Amos also had a lighter side.
He trained with Clowns of America. His most memorable clown character, Curb Service, had Amos walking the streets of Havre de Grace during the Independence Day Parade carrying a toilet plunger wearing full clown make up. Through the years, all of his children, including his daughter, Amy, who died in 2002, joined him in appearing as clowns.
"Dad was a great supporter of anything we were involved in," said his daughter, Anna Williams. He was very active with the Blazers Majorette and Drum Corps and the Cecil County Holly Tree. He was also named one of Cecil County's Most Beautiful People. "He was a man of integrity and truthfulness," said Williams.
His wife also got top priority. Throughout their marriage, they had date night on Fridays when they went to Ballpark restaurant for dinner.
His caring reached beyond his family. One of his last actions before he died was to telephone longtime family friend and former Perryville Town Clerk, Gerry Perry. Perry's husband Larry "Juice" Perry died recently and Amos called to check on her.
"I wish we could all take at least half his qualities. If we do half as much as he did, we're doing good," said his son, Dale. "He loved Perryville more than we know and more than he'd ever admit."