Clarence W. Blount, 81, a Democratic state senator from Baltimore who was Senate majority leader from 1983 until retiring in 2002, died April 12 at Kernan Hospital in Baltimore after a stroke.

Mr. Blount, a former Baltimore high school principal, won election to the Senate in 1970. He did not seek reelection last year.

Over the years, he held such positions as vice chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee and chairman of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.

Besides environmental legislation, he shepherded bills that promoted minority business and education.

He also was chairman of the Senate's black caucus. Known for his calm eloquence, he said he could accomplish more within the power structure of the Senate than as a fiery activist working from the outside.

Mr. Blount was born in South Creek, N.C., to a sharecropper and his wife. The family later moved to Baltimore.

He was largely illiterate when he entered first grade in Baltimore at age 10. He became a high school graduate at 21, shielding his age from his classmates.

He served in the Army in Europe during World War II and was a 1950 political science graduate of what is now Morgan State University.

As a legislator, he became a key supporter of the historically black college.

He also received a master's degree in education from Johns Hopkins University.

He began his teaching career in the 1950s and became executive assistant of the Community College of Baltimore.