Back in the day, the Department of Recreation and Sports was known primarily for league play and competitive but fun sports tournaments for kids and adults. Social clubs, haunted houses, movie nights and art contests were also among the popular activities the county offered for families to connect and be entertained.
In Woodlawn, the man responsible for coordinating these programs and events was Craig Linthicum, a well-respected, resourceful, good-with-people supervisor within the department.
On May 10, old friends, associates and former players came together on the sidewalk, not far from the white building that housed Linthicum’s office, to honor his impact on the community during his 30-plus years of service with the department. People he mentored and worked with described him as someone who insisted that every decision the department staff made with children as the priority.
Speaker after speaker reminisced—some with tears— about Linthicum’s fair, inclusive and caring leadership, activities such as skating on the pond at Woodlawn Cemetery, and treasured relationships with elected officials, local businesses and families.
“Anybody who came up through Woodlawn Rec and Parks knew Craig because he was involved with every program,” said Jack Milani, a friend who served as a commissioner during Linthicum’s tenure. “We, in the sports world, thought we were closest to him, but I found out all the programs felt that way because he would visit the garden clubs, the seniors, and he’d go to the ballet recitals and the Betsy Ross doll club. He made sure there was something for everyone.”
When HFCA, an agency that is now Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, was considering relocating out of Woodlawn, many federal employees who played in Linthicum’s leagues objected and shared how vested they were in the area because of the games and camaraderie.
Aaron Barnett, president of Powhatan Community Association and vice president of the Recreation Council, told how Linthicum picked him up for youth football practice, and although recruited to play for other programs, decided to stay in Woodlawn because of Linthicum.
Del. Ben Brooks of District 10 shared how his son, Ben Jr., played in sports programs under Linthicum.
On Facebook, Woodlawn native Ken Barrick recalled that Linthicum gave him his first job in 1981 as a 14-year-old. “The number of lives he touched during his decades of service is truly immeasurable,” Barrick wrote.
Ray Banks, goodwill ambassador to the Negro Baseball League Museum, says Linthicum appointed him the Monday night men’s softball commissioner in Woodlawn. One recollection etched in Banks’ memory is Linthicum’s encouragement and approval for his Dr. J’s All Stars slow-pitch softball team to compete in the all-black world tournament in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1986. “He was our leader and mentor. You’ll find nobody who has anything negative to say about him. Nobody.”
The long-awaited highlight of the evening was when Barry Williams, director of Recreation and Parks who first met Linthicum when Williams was a principal at Randallstown High School, pulled away a cover on a blue and white street sign that revealed the name, Craig Linthicum Way. The sign is posted in the 2100 block of Gwynn Oak Drive at the end of the driveway that leads to the Woodlawn Senior Center and the recreation building.
The dedication event came together quickly out of a conversation of Banks and Milani, who also owns Monaghan’s Pub. Both longtime friends and associates of Linthicum’s, they wanted to honor him. Banks came up with the idea to have a road named after Linthicum. He and Milani set the plan in motion, contacting representatives from the offices of the County Council, Council Executive and others to cut through the red tape and expedite the process.
“God put it in my heart to do something for a man that touched all of us,” says Banks. As the dedication ended, with Linthicum thanking everyone, a light drizzle dissipated. Then a rainbow appeared.
“He was a wonderful person who touched everyone’s heart,” Banks said.