Joe Tydings with now-retired AHC Executive Director Jay Hickey at the 2014 Walk on Washington © Equiery Archives

U.S. Senator Joseph Davies Tydings, a Harford County Democrat, died on October 8 at the age of 90. Tydings was known for many progressive policies and authored the landmark Federal legislation known as the American Horse Protection Act. Here in Maryland, his long family involvement with horses continued till his death. Among many timber horses that Tydings owned was Spencer Road, the 2013 Maryland Steeplechase Novice Horse of the Year. Spencer Road was co-owned by Tydings, Ellie Russell and Gerry Brewster.

Tydings was born in North Carolina but grew up on the family’s farm in Oakington, MD. He went to public school in Aberdeen and then graduated from McDonogh School in 1946. He went on to graduate from the University of Maryland in 1950 and then graduated from the University of Maryland Law School in 1953. After serving in the U.S. Army, Tydings practiced law until being elected to Maryland’s House of Delegates in 1955. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Tydings to the position of U.S. Attorney for Maryland, a position he held until 1963. Tydings was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1964 and served from 1965 to 1971.

Tydings stance on gun control stemmed from the death of his friend, Senator Robert F. Kennedy and continued throughout his senatorial career. Along with other lawmakers, Tydings introduced the Firearms Registration and Licensing Act. “His progressive battles cost him his Senate seat in 1970, but his display of political courage was an inspiration to me and many others,” U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen said in a statement Monday after Tydings’ death.

After his years in the Senate, Tydings returned to practicing law and served on state educational commission. He was a member of the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland from 2000 to 2005 and was senior counsel at the law firm of Dickstein, Shapiro, Morin and Oshinsky in Washington, D.C.