Thomas P. Murray dies owned Ledbetter's tavern

May 01, 1991

A Mass of Christian burial for Thomas P. Murray, former owner of the Fells Point tavern Ledbetter's and a promoter of the area, will be offered at 10:30 a.m. today in the University of Dayton chapel in Dayton, Ohio.

Mr. Murray, 44, died Saturday at a Kettering, Ohio, hospital after a heart attack near his home there.

He owned the Thames Street tavern from 1973 until 1977 and helped to develop the old waterfront neighborhood into a magnet for tourists and others seeking entertainment.

In addition to serving as president of the Fells Point Merchants Association, then mainly composed of tavern owners, he held one of the first fund-raisers at his tavern for the Ronald McDonald House, a home for parents of children in the hospital. He was a supporter of other festivals and promotions as well.

He maintained a public feud with a competitor, "Turkey Joe" Trabert, as part of his Fells Point publicity efforts. Mr. Trabert, now a special assistant for operations and public safety in the governor's office in Baltimore, said that they remained friends throughout the feud.

The Rev. Joseph Ehrmann, once a defensive tackle for the Colts, got to know Mr. Murray during his rookie year. He described Mr. Murray as "not self-centered."

Mr. Murray introduced many Colts to Baltimore and provided a place where football players could simply be themselves and become friendly with people from other walks of life, according to Mr. Ehrmann, who heads a city ministry.

He said the death was "a tragic thing. To be that young, that lTC charismatic, and that full of life. . . . He was able to make things happen. That's the kind of people we need most in this world."

Mr. Murray's charisma came from both his personality and his size. Mr. Trabert said some of Mr. Murray's friends called him Ollie because, at a weight of more than 300 pounds, he resembled the comedian Oliver Hardy. But Mr. Trabert said his infectious laugh sounded like that of Hardy's partner, Stan Laurel.

He got the nickname as a freshman in college. A classmate, who resembled the other partner in the comedy team, was called Stan.

Mr. Murray was also fond of the Inner Harbor. Before Harborplace was built, he sold steamed shrimp at City Fairs there, and his picture was used on posters advertising the 1975 fair.

Born in Baltimore and reared on Cator Avenue, he graduated from Blessed Sacrament School and Calvert Hall High School before earning a degree in business administration at the University of Dayton in 1969.

Returning to Baltimore, he worked as an auditor for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in Washington and at the Social Security Administration headquarters before buying the bar.

In 1977 he married Darlene Saverino, sold the bar and moved to the Dayton area, where he bought the Punkin Patch Restaurant near the University of Dayton.

He had to sell the restaurant after two years. He was ahead of his time -- people in the Dayton area were only used to fried fish -- and the family wound up eating his crab cakes, his wife said. He then became general sales manager of Allied Wine and Spirits, a beer and wine distributor in Dayton.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Christine Murray of Kettering; a son, Jeff Murray of Kettering; two sisters, Mary Alice Lewis of Baltimore and Patricia Trageser of Ocean City; and a brother, William J. Murray of Towson.

The family suggested that memorial donations could be made to a scholarship fund named for Mr. Murray at the University of Dayton Development Office, 300 College Park, Dayton.

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