Charles W. Gilchrist

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Charles W. "Charlie" Gilchrist
Maryland State Senator, District 17
In office
Montgomery County Executive
In office
Preceded byJames P. Gleason
Succeeded bySidney Kramer
Personal details
BornNovember 12, 1936
Washington D.C.
DiedJune 24, 1999
Baltimore, Maryland
Political partyDemocratic
OccupationAttorney, local politician, Episcopal priest

Charles W. Gilchrist received degrees from Williams College magna cum laude in 1958 and Harvard Law School in 1961 and was admitted into the Maryland Bar in 1962. He was active in many civic and political organizations, including the D.C. Bar Association and the Democratic Central Committee, and served as a Maryland state senator. In 1978 he was elected as County Executive after the retirement of James P. Gleason.[1] He died on June 24, 1999, of pancreatic cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.[2]

Tenure as Montgomery County Executive[edit]

Gilchrist took office in 1978 after defeating his Republican opponent, Richmond M. Keeney with a margin of more than 3 to 2 and thus became the first Democrat to be elected county executive in Montgomery.[3]

Gilchrist's administration was marked by housing problems and a sewer moratorium, pressure to control spending, a reorganization of County government to make it more centralized, and controversies over appointments. He was able to hold property tax raises to the level of or below inflation, and survive questions over his appointments, some of which led to the "Liquorgate" scandal, which he also survived. He was able to expand social services while holding down the size of government, and oversaw the opening of the Ride-On bus system, the Laytonsville landfill, and the incinerator at Dickerson, which had been planned during the Gleason administration[citation needed].

In 1984 he announced his retirement after the 1986 election to devote his life to the Episcopal priesthood.[4] Sidney Kramer, the candidate whom he supported to succeed him[citation needed], won over his opponent by a 7 to 4 margin despite being relatively unknown.[5]

In memoriam[edit]

The Gilchrist Center for Cultural Diversity in Wheaton, Maryland is named after him. Opened on September 8, 2001, the center provides services to an increasing immigrant population in Montgomery County.[6] On April 21, 2006, the Montgomery County Campus of Johns Hopkins University renamed the main building in honor of Gilchrist citing his role in the creation of the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center where the campus is located.[7]

In 1990, as the associate pastor of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, Rev. Charles Gilchrist started "Desayuno y Dialogue", a breakfast program for the homeless and poor in the Washington, DC neighborhoods of Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant. The program was renamed Charlie's Place[permanent dead link][permanent dead link] in 1999 to honor his hard work and commitment to the poor. Charlie's Place[permanent dead link] continues today, serving breakfast 4 days a week and providing a myriad of aid.



  1. ^ Former County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist (1936 – 1999). Maryland State Archives.
  2. ^ Claudia Levy. The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Jun 26, 1999. pg. B.01
  3. ^ Gilchrist Wins Executive Race In Montgomery. By Janis Johnson and Bart Barnes Washington Post Staff Writer. The Washington Post; Nov 8, 1978; pg. A26
  4. ^ Transition for Charles Gilchrist. (1986, November 22). The Washington Post, A22. Retrieved December 20, 2008
  5. ^ By R.H. Melton Washington Post Staff Writer (1986, November 5). Morella Beats Bainum For 8th District Seat :Morella Bucks Md. Democratic Tide to Take 8th District Congressional Seat. The Washington Post, A31. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  6. ^ Gilchrist Center for Cultural Diversity Archived 2008-11-21 at the Wayback Machine.. Montgomery County, Maryland website. Retrieved December 19, 2008.
  7. ^ JHU Honors Montgomery County Visionary. The JHU Gazette, April 24, 2006. Retrieved April 17, 2009.
Preceded by
James P. Gleason
Montgomery County, Maryland Executive
Succeeded by
Sidney Kramer