Chestertown, MD, March 18, 2002 — With great sadness, I write to inform you of the loss of one of the Washington College's most cherished friends and benefactors. Alonzo G. Decker, Jr., former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Black and Decker Corporation and emeritus member of Washington College's Board of Visitors and Governors, passed away at his home on Monday, March 18. He is remembered by his colleagues at the College as a leaders of great intelligence, vision and kindness who played a major role in Washington College's advance.
A champion of philanthropy who inspired others with his enthusiasm for "the joy of giving," Al Decker served on our Board for nineteen years and was instrumental in raising funds for scholarships and for capital projects, including the Alonzo G. Decker Science Center and the Virginia Gent Decker Arboretum, and, most recently, for an endowed professorship in the natural sciences. During the 1980s, he served as co-chair, with James Price, of the Washington College Campaign for Excellence, raising more than $44 million dollars.
Al Decker was also a generous supporter of other educational and philanthropic causes, serving on the boards of the Johns Hopkins University, Hopkins School of Continuing Studies, and Maryland Institute College of Art and donating more than $1 million to the Baltimore Museum of Industry.
A Baltimore native and son of the co-founder of the Black & Decker Manufactoring Company, Al Decker started his career with the power tool company in 1922 at the age of 14. With an electrical engineering degree from Cornell University, he joined the company on a full-time basis as consulting engineer in 1930, working his way through most departments and eventually becoming chairman of the board. During the 1930s Al Decker served as an engineer in research and manufacturing. In 1940 he was elected to the board of directors, followed by his election as executive vice president in 1956, president in 1960, and chief executive officer in 1964. Four years later he was named chairman of the board. During his ten years as chief executive officer, the company enjoyed its greatest period of growth. Today, Black and Decker is a world leader in the production of devices and technical instruments, with offices in 50 countries.
Washington College awarded Alonzo Decker the Award for Excellence in 1986 and an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree in 1997.
Al Decker will be remembered for his philanthropic fervor—"Don't give until it hurts," he used to say, "Give until it feels real good!"—and for his devotion to his wife of more than 50 years, Virginia Gent Decker. The Deckers have served as exemplars of grace and generosity for us all. Al will be greatly missed.
We extend our heartfelt condolences to Virginia Decker and our gratitude to her for sharing her husband with the Washington College family.
Funeral arrangements will be announced as soon as details are available.