Former Chestertown Mayor Elmer Horsey passed away on Sunday, January 1, at 90.
Horsey, known as “Chief” to residents of Chestertown, was mayor from 1978 through 1993 and is remembered for wide-ranging accomplishments during his tenure. These achievements touched every aspect of the town, from downtown’s colonial brick sidewalks and new Town and police offices to the development of Wilmer Park and personally appealing to the Maryland Critical Area Committee to clear the path for the development of Heron Point.
“He was determined,” says Town Manager Bill Ingersoll. “He’d take on any project and wouldn’t stop until he finished it.”
Ingersoll, who worked as town manager during Horsey’s 16-year incumbency, praised the mayor’s tenacious leadership, inclusivity, and ability to negotiate for new construction and restoration of downtown.
An accountant, Peoples Bank director, and president of the Springfield Foundation founded by DuPont heiress Louisa d’Andelot Carpenter, Horsey committed to racial equity in Chestertown.
Leveraging his several professional roles, he guided the Springfield Foundation to create Washington Park, a 56-unit community designed to provide low-income housing for Blacks in Chestertown while also, with Town Manager Bill Ingersoll, igniting a building renaissance to address dilapidated houses in town.
Ingersoll says that people forget that Mayor Horsey was instrumental in raising Chestertown’s profile. On one occasion, Horsey, Ingersoll, and two others borrowed a friend’s boat to “invade” then Major Schaefer’s Baltimore. Schaefer met the crew at the Baltimore docks. The two became lifelong friends. When Schaefer became Governor, the friendship was not forgotten by way of Federal grant access. Over the years, Horsey would host a gala crab fest in Schaefer’s honor.
One of Schaefers’ last acts as Maryland Governor was an 11th-hour State Roads Commission appointment given to his old friend Elmer Horsey.
“Elmer loved his work with the Commission.” Local Attorney Steve Meehan says. “He felt it was an important contribution to the people of the State.”
Meehan recalls his early days as a reporter and later as an attorney in Chestertown. “I can’t think of an elected official of the Town of Chestertown who committed more time and energy and have the wherewithal to seek statewide resources through his political connections. I don’t think we’ll ever see a mayor like Elmer Horsey again, but let’s hope we do.”
Mayor Horsey also recognized that the relationship between the Town and Washington College was critical to the success of both and sought to weld the two by helping the College with infrastructure needs and the closure of Gibson Avenue. That closure opened the campus for constructing the Casey Swim Center, Casey Academic Center, Goldstein Hall, and the Johnson Fitness Center. To further the town/gown relationship, he invited to the College to build the pavilion at Wilmer Park to give students river access.
Easily recognized for his signature plaid pants and crewcut, Horsey was often seen attending ceremonies, graduations, conferences, and sports on the campus. He welcomed incoming freshmen to town, hanging banners along the streets and inviting them to his yearly crab fest at Fountain Park. To further the liaison, he founded the Mayor’s Scholarship to help Kent students attend Washington College.
On Horsey’s retirement in 1994, Baltimore Sun writer William Thompson quoted Kent County News publisher and editor Hurtt Deringer as saying that Horsey was “the best mayor, for most of his time in office, Chestertown has ever seen.”