- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Robert J. Hellman, 62, writer, BMW enthusiast

Robert J. Hellman, a writer and recognized BMW enthusiast, died March 9 of carcinoid-related heart disease at his Chesapeake Bay home in Tracy”s Landing, Md. He was 62.

Mr. Hellman earned a doctorate in German intellectual history from Columbia University in 1972 before moving to the District and working on Capitol Hill. During his graduate studies, Mr. Hellman was active in the affairs and publications of Columbia”s International House, captivating many with his guitar playing and command of obscure tunes and lyrics.

He grew up on Hellman Point Road in North Lake, Wis., graduating in 1967 from Marquette University, where he was a member of Crown and Anchor Literary Society. An early U.S. exchange student to East Germany who lived to view his own Stasi file after the secret police records were made available, Mr. Hellman lived at Trotthaus during the last years of the Cold War while he conducted research at Humboldt University for his book, “Berlin, The Red Room & White Beer: The ‘Free’ Hegelian Radicals” of the 1840s. There, he played on the East Berlin volleyball team. He witnessed the funeral of the supposed last Holy Roman empress and the collapse of the actual Berlin Wall.

A prolific writer and adroit editor, Mr. Hellman”s contributions included a 1976 book produced under then-House Banking Committee Chairman Henry Reuss, “On the Trail of the Ice Age,” which inspired the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin. Mr. Hellman wrote for numerous publications, including coverage of Daytona Bike Week for The Washington Times.

He helped popularize the term “Boxer” for BMW”s air-cooled motorcycles, Mr. Hellman”s wit once got him banned from reviewing cars for the company”s flagship magazine. He was designated BMW “Freund der Marke” No. 001 in 1997 and given BMW of North America”s first BMW Icon award a decade later. As vice chairman, motorcycles, for the International Council of BMW Clubs until February 2007, Mr. Hellman was honored later that year for his more than 20 years as editor of the BMW Riders Association magazine On The Level.

Mr. Hellman belonged to the National Military Intelligence Association and the Association for Intelligence Officers.

An avowed liberal who often saw past party lines, to the point where he once entertained writing speeches for a Republican governor, Mr. Hellman followed basketball with equal passion, cheering Marquette’s Dwayne Wade and decrying Duke. A tenured figure at the Guards in Georgetown and Mangos by the Bay in Maryland, Mr. Hellman”s broad interests included crewing for Harry “Buddy” Melges Jr. of America”s Cup fame, iceboating, ice skating, windsurfing and scuba diving, a late-onset love of gardening, and an abiding appreciation of the turtles that reminded him of his lakeside childhood.

Mr. Hellman is survived by his mother, Margaret Hellman of Milwaukee; a daughter, Alice Sturm of the District; a brother, John Hellman; and his friend, Mary Lee Kingsley of Bethesda.

Jane C. Gude, 86, congressman’s wife

Jane Callaghan Gude, whose forays through Montgomery County neighborhoods helped propel her husband, Gilbert Gude, into the U.S. House of Representatives, died March 24 at her residence at Grand Oaks, on the Sibley Memorial Hospital campus in the District. She was 86.

For weeks before each of her husband”s five elections to the House, Mrs. Gude and a group of friends went door to door in Democratic as well as Republican areas. One of her handouts was always a set of recipes, including hers for Maryland crab cakes.

“Nobody turned down the recipes,” said Gordon Hawk, the Republican congressman”s longtime administrative assistant, “and, of course, the reverse side told about Gilbert and his accomplishments.”

She was often the first out campaigning and the last to quit. She explained that she got her baptism in politics working for the Thomas E. Dewey campaign for president in 1948 and helping with the victory celebration, which went sour when Harry S. Truman pulled ahead. After that, she said, she didn”t take any political race for granted.

Born in Baltimore into a Navy family ” her father and uncle were both admirals, as is her brother ” she was raised in Rockville, where she met the young Gilbert Gude when they attended first grade together. They were married in June 1948 at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and were a team until his death in 2007.

Mrs. Gude was a graduate of Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School and Trinity College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1945.

As a congressman’s wife, Mrs. Gude oversaw a Flag Day celebration at the Capitol. She and her children also walked the C&O; Canal, helping to publicize Mr. Gude’s work saving it as a national park.

Mrs. Gude also worked with Irish Catholic and Protestant mothers organizing to end the violence in their country. She visited Belfast at the height of hostilities as part of the peace effort.

After Mr. Gude”s surprise retirement from Congress in 1977, having never lost an election, Mrs. Gude was urged to run for his seat herself or for governor. But she did not see herself in such a role, though she remained interested in politics. Her husband became director of the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress, and she worked for county Republicans, among them Howard A. Denis, who was elected to the state Senate and County Council.

She was a Girl Scout leader, a leader of the National Society of Colonial Dames, a founder of the sodality at the Church of the Little Flower, a Dame of Malta, and a member of the John Carroll Society, the Christ Child Society, the Chevy Chase Women”s Republican Club and the International Neighbors Society.

Survivors include five children, Sharon of Rockville, Adrienne of the District, Gilbert Jr. and Gregory of Bethesda and Daniel of Cabin John; three grandchildren; a brother, Rear Adm. William Callaghan of Rockville; and her stepmother, Sarah Callaghan of Chevy Chase.

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