Idamae Garrott, 82, a popular Montgomery County Democrat whose stands against what she called "chaotic growth" in the county helped propel her into two terms each on the County Council and in the Maryland House of Delegates and the state Senate, died June 13 at Montgomery General Hospital.
Mrs. Garrott, who lived at Leisure World in Silver Spring, died of complications from a broken hip she had suffered in May.
She had retired from public office when she left the Senate in 1994 but had continued to campaign on behalf of Democratic candidates.
Mrs. Garrott served on the County Council from 1966 to 1974, helping to write many laws dealing with housing, civil rights and planning. She was a champion of strict land-use policies and citizen involvement and an advocate of civic panels, studies and reviews.
Many regarded her as a kindly, white-haired grand dame of Montgomery Democratic politics. But she also was a prodigious worker who liked to stay up late poring over voluminous reports.
"I certainly enjoyed reading this history of the Reddy Branch pumping station," she once told a staff member during a council meeting, prompting knowing laughter from fellow council members.
As an opponent of the kind of rapid development that threatened for years to swamp the county's schools and roads, Mrs. Garrott's strongest appeal was to those who wanted to protect their neighborhoods. Early on, she forged ties with civic groups in her fights against major highway proposals, such as the long-debated intercounty connector.
James P. Gleason, the Republican who defeated her in one of her few election losses, a race for county executive in 1974, belittled Mrs. Garrott's approach to collective governance as "paralysis by analysis."
But county Democratic leader Lanny Davis called Mrs. Garrott "the prototypical citizen-politician."
Describing her in 1993, after she had announced plans to retire from the Senate, Davis said that to Mrs. Garrott, "a fun time means settling down with a 250-page report about Montgomery County's land-use plan for the year 2000."
Davis, who beat Mrs. Garrott in the 1976 Democratic primary race for the House of Representatives, said that in the state legislature, she "quickly became known for her integrity and her concern about issues of growth, education and process." In the eyes of some of her colleagues, Davis said, there was "too much concern about process at the expense of results."
Mrs. Garrott was said to sometimes irk fellow legislators by first voting for spending programs that would help Montgomery County and then opposing the tax packages needed to pay for them. She rejected the charge as untrue.
Washington Post staff writer R.H. Melton wrote of Mrs. Garrott in 1985, when she was preparing to run for the state Senate, that her personal style, as a stereotypical Montgomery politician, endeared her to voters at home, but "occasionally makes her the object of her colleagues' scorn" in the legislature.
"She has a deliberate, almost plodding approach to problems and is above all a planner, one who is willing to study a major issue for months and even years before making a decision," he wrote. Other legislators attacked her for sponsoring bills, such as a measure on animal rights, that they regarded as frivolous.
Idamae Thomas Riley was born in Washington and raised in Prince George's County. She was a graduate of Hyattsville High School and a summa cum laude graduate of Western Maryland College, where she won an award for being the "best all-around woman student." She taught government and history for 10 years in Baltimore City schools before her marriage in 1948 to William T. Garrott, an Agriculture Department economist.
Mrs. Garrott started in politics in a way typical of many women in Montgomery politics in the 1950s and 1960s: She rose through the ranks of the county's highly active League of Women Voters, which she helped found in 1952.
Long interested in taxation, she became the league's tax expert and published an easy-to-understand booklet on the subject. While with the league, she also helped push forward a successful proposal for creating a zoning hearing examiner for the county. She was league president from 1962 to 1966, when she ran successfully for the County Council.
Mrs. Garrott quickly staked out a position as a maverick, often voting as the lone dissenter on the seven-member council. Many of her lone votes were over planning issues.
But in the next council election, she was the only member returned to what became an all-Democratic group. She was elected council president in 1970. While serving on the council, she also headed the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Washington Metropolitan Transit Commission planning the Metro rapid-rail system.
After losing the county executive bid, she helped create an organization to promote citizen involvement in government, called Citizens for a Better Montgomery County. She ran for the House of Delegates in 1978 and served two terms representing the Kemp Mill area of Silver Spring.
In 1986, she trounced another popular Democrat, Lucille Maurer, of Silver Spring, for the District 19 Senate seat. Mrs. Garrott portrayed her opponent as a legislator who was too willing to send Montgomery County tax dollars to Baltimore, particularly in the area of education.
In addition to her husband, William N. Garrott of Leisure World, survivors include two children, W. Riley Garrott of Worthington, Ohio, and Katherine Hussmann of Brookeville; and two grandchildren.
CAPTION: Idamae Garrott was a leader in efforts to control growth.