Arthur Henry Helton, Jr. Profile Photo
1937 Arthur Henry Helton, Jr. 2023

Arthur Henry Helton, Jr.

December 18, 1937 — November 24, 2023

Darlington

Arthur Henry Helton, Jr. departed his beloved Harford County on November 24, 2023. Always ready to serve and opinion rich, Art had many acts during his 85 years and never shied from heading up the charge for democracy, small-town revitalization, and conservation. Of no surprise to those who knew him, he brought his business acumen and humor to every setting whether asked to or not. 

While born in Swords Creek, VA in 1937, Art wasted no time finding his way to Maryland at the bustling age of six months. He resided in Harford County his entire life and took part in its rural offerings from a young age—he belonged to 4-H and trained as a live-stock judge. In later years, he and his wife, Ann, supported youth participating in the Harford County fair. They raised their own flock of Dorset sheep and a chicken or two on their 9-acre property in Darlington. 

Art attended Harford County public schools and at Bel Air High School, played basketball, soccer, and softball. He earned a basketball scholarship to the University of Baltimore (Industrial Management) and while in college, married Phyllis Brewer and they raised their four children in Bel Air. His involvement during college in the Western Auto trainee program led to a management position at a Western Auto in South Baltimore. Soon after he purchased his first Western Auto franchise in Perry Hall and eventually owned stores in Havre de Grace and Aberdeen. Art thrived in the automotive repair business and at one time, his Aberdeen store had the highest per-square-foot sales in the United States.

Owning successful businesses was not enough for Art and his involvement with the Jaycees soon fostered his interest in local politics. This passion, some would say obsession, lasted his lifetime and was ever present in all he did. He began his service as a member of the first Harford County Council and later served two terms as a state senator representing Harford County. Living in Annapolis during the legislative session, he met the dynamic Ann Stockett, herself a public servant and in 1978, the first female candidate for the office of Maryland Lieutenant Governor. Ann and Art wed in 1982 at their house in Havre de Grace in a service officiated by Rev. Aubrey Stewert. 

After Art’s defeat in a third-term run for state senator and several other unsuccessful bids for local offices, he pivoted his efforts to making sure Democrats were active and viable candidates for Harford County and state-wide offices. Together with George Harrison, they created the New Harford Democratic Club in 2002, which exists today as the Harford Democratic Club. In every primary and general election, Art organized door-to-door canvassing, poll workers, and political sign installations.

Never reluctant to rebrand himself and with his entrepreneurial instincts always in tow, Art and Ann began purchasing and repurposing many pieces of commercial real estate in Aberdeen. The resulting portfolio of buildings became Art Helton Properties, which continues as a family business. Many of the properties needed extensive repairs and renovations before they could become rental properties, including the former Moose Lodge, which is now the restaurant Prost and the old Acme grocery store, which became Key Point Health Services. In 2023 the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce named Art its first recipient of the Golden Eagle Award, which recognizes revitalizing properties in Aberdeen.

As a stewart of local causes and efforts, Art belonged to a number of organizations including the local NAACP, the Harford Land Trust, and the Maryland Farm Bureau. The last 20 years of his life, Art belonged to Webster Congregational Christian Church. There he served in many roles, none of which involved singing. His years in business aided him as a church trustee and the constructor and guardian of the budget—work vital to the church's survival. His efforts to replace the doors of the church entrance in time for its 100th anniversary were happening right up to the time of his death. 

Art’s huge presence in all he did extended to his Facebook page. Despite endlessly forgetting his password, he frequently posted at all hours and made many new friends. He brought his hustle to Facebook Marketplace where he was able to sell all sorts of items that would normally be hauled to the dump. 

Simply put, Art never stopped contributing to the economic growth of Harford County communities, engaging its citizens in advocacy, and fostering individual entrepreneurial efforts. People were amazed by his full-tilt activism, which remained until the end.

Art is preceded in death by his parents, Alma B. (Patrick) Helton and Arthur Henry Helton. He is also preceded by his brother, James; his son, Art Helton III; and his grandson, Christopher Belcher. Art is survived by Ann, his children Connie, Kelly (John), and Tracy; his two stepdaughters, Laura and Leah (Ricardo); five grandchildren; and three great grandchildren; his sister, Kathleen; and three nephews.

Visitation with the family and Art’s funeral service will be held Saturday, December 9 at Webster Congregational Christian Church, 4100 Webster Rd., Havre de Grace, MD, 21078. Visitation starts at 10 am and the service at 11 am, which will be followed by a lunch reception. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to Webster Congregational Christian Church at the address above.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Saturday, December 9, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Webster Congregational Christian

4100 Webster Rd, Havre De Grace, MD 21078

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Memorial Service

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Webster Congregational Christian

4100 Webster Rd, Havre De Grace, MD 21078

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