Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Barbara Mandel Refused To Leave Governor's Mansion

Barbara Mandel Refused To Leave Governor's Mansion, Marvin Mandel sentenced to jail, Marvin Mandel wife Jeanne dies at 64: Jeanne Blackistone Mandel, whose love affair with former Gov. Marvin Mandel sparked one of the most dramatic chapters in Maryland political history, died Saturday from heart failure at her Annapolis home. She was 64.

Known her entire life as a strong-willed woman, she waged in the final years of her life a battle against Lou Gehrig's disease, a fatal neuromuscular disorder.

An obituary in yesterday's editions of The Sun for Jeanne Mandel, wife of former Gov. Marvin Mandel, incorrectly stated that he was re-elected while facing federal mail fraud and racketeering charges. Maryland voters re-elected him in 1974, a year before he was indicted. The Sun regrets the error.

"She fought the entire time that she was ill," said son Philip H. Dorsey III of Leonardtown. "Her doctors were amazed with the way she fought."

While Mrs. Mandel accomplished much - preserving a historic Maryland island and being active politically in her home St. Mary's County - it was her relationship with the powerful, pipe-smoking governor that captured national headlines.

"The skeptics, and there were many, said Marvin's marriage to Jeanne wouldn't last, but they were wrong," said Frank DeFilippo, Mr. Mandel's press secretary for eight years.

"In a way it lasted forever," Mr. DeFilippo said yesterday. "Marvin remained extremely devoted to her to the end."

One of the most recognizable and glamorous figures in the state during the 1970s and 1980s, Mrs. Mandel stood defiantly by her husband after he was indicted on federal charges of political corruption, convicted and imprisoned for 19 months.

At the heart of the government's case was Mr. Mandel's need for cash to finance the divorce he wanted from his wife of 32 years, Barbara, so he could marry Jeanne.

Baltimore furniture dealer and political fund-raiser Irvin Kovens and several other businessmen were charged with Mr. Mandel with engineering a labyrinthine scheme to diminish the value of the old Marlboro Race Track by reducing the number of racing days.

After Mr. Kovens and the others bought the track, the days were restored and the value went up.

In exchange, the government contended, Mr. Kovens handled some of Mr. Mandel's divorce-related financial obligations and guaranteed the monthly alimony payments: Mr. Mandel's take-home pay then was about $17,000 a year - less than the alimony he had agreed to pay. As Mary McGrory of the Washington Post wrote: "He loved beyond his means."

Troubled times

On July 3, 1973, Mr. Mandel announced to Maryland "I am in love with another woman, and I intend to marry her."

Mr. Mandel's wife, Barbara, known as Bootsie, did not make it easy. She refused to leave the governor's mansion and suggested her husband consult a psychiatrist. Mr. Mandel moved into an Annapolis hotel and later to the state yacht, Maryland Lady. Five and a half months later a divorce agreement was reached.

Though they may have admired Barbara Mandel's pluck, voters endorsed their governor's determination to be with the woman he loved, re-electing him in 1976 - in spite of his indictment - with 64 percent of the vote.

A confident, smiling Jeanne Mandel's picture ran frequently in newspapers and TV news programs, as he endured two long trials.

"She was a very elegant, charismatic and strong partner," said Mr. Mandel's friend, Annapolis lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano.

She called her husband's conviction "the greatest travesty the American people will ever see."

After Mr. Mandel's sentence was commuted by President Ronald Reagan on Dec. 4, 1981, the couple was reunited.
Title: Barbara Mandel Refused To Leave Governor's Mansion
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