Maryland’s Senate President from 1951-1955 and then again from 1959-1963, Baltimore City Senator George W. Della, Sr. was a truly unique leader for Maryland’s Senate.
Appointed to the Senate by then Governor (and future United States Senator) Herbert O’Conor in 1939, Della was a true Baltimorean. Active in numerous community organizations prior to his career in public service, he had long distinguished himself a community leader prior to coming to Annapolis.
Born in 1908 near the end of the Presidential administration of Teddy Roosevelt, Della would grow up at the height of early twentieth century Baltimore. Taking advantage of all his dynamic community had to offer, he would attend Baltimore City College (graduating in 1927) and the University of Baltimore ultimately attaining both a business administration degree (in 1932) and a law degree (in 1935). As his professional career grew, his personal life flourished as well. Della would marry the then Agnes Mattare in 1936 and their marriage saw the birth of three children (future Maryland Senator George, Jr., Mary, and Howard).
Established in his legal practice in 1936, Della would quickly become active in numerous community and civic organizations including the Baltimore Episcopal Church of the Advent, the Shriners, the American Bankers Life Insurance Company, and the Board of Directors of South Baltimore General Hospital. These associations would lay the groundwork to prepare him for the multifaceted issues that he would come to face upon his appointment to the State Senate in 1939.
Representing Baltimore’s 6th legislative district, Della would rapidly ascend in the Senate and hold multiple important roles in the body. He would serve as the Chairman of the Insurance and Loans Committee, the Judicial Proceedings Committee, and the Legislative Council and was a member of the State Constitutional Convention. He would be elected by his colleagues to serve as President of the Maryland Senate in 1951 and serve until 1955. After a four year hiatus occupied by Maryland political legend Louis Goldstein, Della would then return to the Senate Presidency in 1959 where he would serve until his retirement in 1963.
In retirement, Senator Della would stay engaged in the political process serving as a representative of Baltimore Gas and Electric Company in Annapolis from 1967 until his retirement in 1985. He would pass on August 11, 1990 at the age of 82. He passed leaving behind a legacy of service paralleled by few of his generation and he left the Senate Presidency in a position to thrive throughout the decades to come.