- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Frances Hughes Glendening ended their marriage yesterday with a divorce decree issued in an Upper MarIboro courtroom.
"We wish each other well and each remain dedicated to careers in public service," Mr. Glendening said in a statement that thanked Marylanders for respecting the couple's privacy and declared that he would not comment further.
Coming two days before what would have been their 25th wedding anniversary, the announcement was a quiet finale to a silent separation begun in July 2000.
Neither Glendening has spoken publicly about the split unlike New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and his wife, television personality Donna Hanover.
Despite their separation, Mrs. Glendening had continued with her duties as Maryland's first lady.
In a statement yesterday, Mrs. Glendening said, "It has been an honor and privilege to serve as Maryland's First Lady throughout the past seven years. I look forward to continuing my advocacy with [citizens] and volunteering in the community."
Just Friday, she was at a conference at the University of Maryland, where she first met Mr. Glendening, her former political science professor.
Gratefully accepting a cup of coffee from an aide, she talked about her book project, "Women of Achievement in Maryland History."
"I'm hoping it will be out in the spring for Women's History Month in March," she said, the energy in her voice contradicted by eyes that said they'd like another hour of sleep.
Mrs. Glendening spoke and mingled at an all-day symposium called "Creating the Future Economic Empowerment for Women and Girls." She was clearly "in her element," promoting one of her favorite causes, which include literacy, the arts and mental health, spokeswoman Susan Casey said.
Although no longer Mr. Glendening's closest political adviser, Mrs. Glendening has continued to average more than one event a week in the role of first lady over the last two months.
Yet the Glendenings hadn't appeared together in public since January when they sat yards apart at a dedication ceremony for the new Senate office building in Annapolis.
Nonetheless, Mrs. Glendening led the spouses' committee at the National Governors Association convention in August, avoiding what could have been awkward joint appearances with her husband, who was the group's chairman at the time.
Links to her photograph and biography still appeared on the governor's official Web site yesterday, but Mrs. Glendening's spokeswoman said she would be "winding down" her public role as she completes already scheduled December commitments.
It is, however, certain that Mrs. Glendening will be seen stumping for Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who is expected to run for governor as Mr. Glendening completes his second and final term.
Both women say they've forged a sisterly relationship since Mrs. Townsend, eldest daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, became Mr. Glendening's running mate in 1994.
In her statement, Mrs. Glendening expressed special gratitude to the lieutenant governor.
"I also thank Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend as well as the numerous state and local officials who have helped me tremendously in carrying out my initiatives," the statement read. It did not mention the governor.
At the conference Friday before Mrs. Glendening introduced keynote speaker Marion Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense Fund, she worked in a pitch for Mrs. Townsend's gubernatorial bid.
"Kathleen I will be there cheering you on."
While Mrs. Townsend is considered the front-runner in that race, it is less certain whether Mrs. Glendening, a lawyer with the Federal Election Commission, will seek office herself.
Friends who appreciate her policy knowledge and personal skills have encouraged her to do so, but Mrs. Glendening has said little, directly, about whether she will.
The governor's office announced last week that Mrs. Townsend will help the governor host a holiday open house for the public at the executive mansion in Annapolis, which Mr. Glendening had used mostly as a place to stay until he separated from Mrs. Glendening last year.
Mrs. Glendening has been living in the home they had shared in University Park.
While the tributes and adoring looks public hallmarks of their marriage are gone, Mrs. Glendening has kept the warm personal style that observers said seemed to balance Mr. Glendening's aloofness.
At the conference Friday, she kept hugging associates and patting acquaintances' arms as she chatted with them in the lobby.
Friends and associates who were stunned to learn the couple had separated said they'd grown used to the Glendenings' silence on their estrangement.
Members of their circle said they admired the dignified and determined way Mrs. Glendening kept private problems from eclipsing her public activism.


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