Remembering Senator Tydings
Terp Had Served as Trustee, Supporter, Mentor
The Hon. Joseph D. Tydings ’51, a former U.S. senator, lawyer and passionate supporter of the University of Maryland, died of cancer on Monday. He was 90.
Tydings, the son of former U.S. senator, 1910 graduate and Tydings Hall namesake Millard E. Tydings, was a longtime advocate for public service. He served as an emeritus trustee of the University of Maryland College Park Foundation and previously as chairman of the University of Maryland Board of Regents and called UMD “one of the great loves of my life.”
“In his many years serving Marylanders, Senator Tydings made an undeniable impact on our state's history and future,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement.
Born on May 4, 1928, in Asheville, N.C., to Thomas Cheeseborough and Eleanor Davies Cheeseborough, Tydings was adopted at age 6 after his mother divorced Cheeseborough and married Millard Tydings. After graduating from the McDonough School in 1946, he served in the Sixth Cavalry Group of the Third Army.
Tydings aspired to follow his adoptive father’s footsteps in public service, and knew from an early age that he also wanted the same alma mater.
“There was never any question in my mind where I was going to go to school,” Tydings said in an interview earlier this year.
He served as UMD’s student body president and started a chapter of the Young Democrats before graduating with a degree in government and politics and then attending the University of Maryland School of Law.
“Next to his kids and grandchildren, he loved the University of Maryland,” said daughter Mary Tydings Smith.
He was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1955 to 1961 and the U.S. attorney for Maryland from 1961 to 1963 before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1964.
His priorities included voting rights, anti-crime legislation and the environment. Following the assassinations of his friends President John F. Kennedy and U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, Tydings became a vocal proponent of gun control and believed it was the major reason for his re-election defeat in 1970.
Joan Patterson ’66, special assistant for University Relations, had worked for Tydings on Capitol Hill and said his former staff would often reunite to celebrate his birthday.
“He was a tremendous individual,” she said. “I can’t say enough about the impact he made on my life. He was always there if I needed anything.”
Tydings returned to work as a lawyer after his senate term, and was most recently senior counsel, policy and political law, for Blank Rome in Washington, D.C. His memoir, “My Life in Progressive Politics: Against the Grain,” was published in April by Texas A&M University Press.
“Countless members of the UMD community are inspired by the life and legacy of Senator Tydings, our distinguished alumnus and longtime supporter,” said Gregory F. Ball, dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. “He demonstrated courage in his willingness to challenge members of his own party to better serve the nation, as well as by reaching across the aisle on numerous issues of great importance.”
Tydings was also a mentor to Steve Glickman ’11, M.P.P. ’12, director of Northeast regional programming for the Alumni Association, who also served as president of the Student Government Association, 60 years later. On Friday, Tydings gave Glickman his long-held copy of the 1949 “M Book” student handbook.
Once they met at a Board of Trustees meeting, Glickman said, he regularly followed up on Tydings’ offer to turn to him for advice. Even after graduation, Tydings supported his efforts to establish a nonprofit and run for office in New York state.
“He was the first person I talked to about going through that process, and he laid everything out,” Glickman said. “He was always encouraging people to get involved in government, and was very generous with his time.”
A memorial service has been scheduled at Memorial Chapel for Saturday, Nov. 10 at 10:30 a.m. A reception will follow at noon in the Colony Ballroom of the Stamp Student Union.
Sara Gavin contributed to this report.