James H. Pierce, led firms making betting machinesServices...


March 28, 1992

James H. Pierce, led firms making betting machines

Services for James H. Pierce, who headed both of the country's leading pari-mutuel betting machine companies during his career, will be held at 11:30 a.m. Monday at St. John's Episcopal Church, 3738 Butler Road, Glyndon.

Mr. Pierce, who was 62, died Thursday of cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

A native of the Atlanta suburb of Chamblee, Ga., he was president of the American Totalisator Co., the country's oldest pari-mutuel machine firm, from 1973 to 1982. A subsidiary of General Instrument Corp., it is now called AmTote and is based in Hunt Valley.

American Totalisator Co. was founded by the late Harry Straus, a Johns Hopkins University-trained engineer. He invented the electronic totalizator that registers bets, computes odds and automates payouts. Racetracks everywhere depend on the devices.

Mr. Straus also installed the nation's first electronic odds-display board at Pimlico more than 50 years ago.

In 1982, Mr. Pierce joined Autotote, of Newark, Del., a leading competitor of his former company, and until 1989 he was chief executive officer and board chairman. He stepped down as CEO but remained Autotote's chairman until his death.

Mr. Pierce grew up in the family dairy business in Georgia. In 1952, he graduated from North Georgia Military College. He was commissioned an Army second lieutenant and served as an airborne instructor at Fort Benning, Ga., until 1954, when he returned to the family business.

He left the farm in 1961 to become a route salesman in Georgia for Servomation, a food and vending machine service now called ServAmerica. Mr. Pierce rose through the corporate ranks and when he left the New York office in 1973 to join American Tote, he was Servomation's vice president for sales.

An intense businessman, Mr. Pierce also played hard as an avid golfer. He was a member of the Elkridge Club, the Baltimore Country Club, the Atlanta Athletic Club and the Wee Burn Country Club in Darien, Conn.

He headed the golf committee at the Baltimore Country Club at Five Farms, and was instrumental in bringing the U.S. Women's Open Golf Tournament there in 1988. It was the first time the event had been held in the Baltimore area.

Mr. Pierce is survived by his wife of 16 years, the former Anne Ripley Struven; his father, Paul E. Pierce of Atlanta; a son, Brooks H. Pierce of Baltimore; a daughter, Kimberly Fowler of Atlanta; a stepdaughter, Catherine L. Lucas of Baltimore; a brother, Paul E. Pierce Jr. of Daytona Beach, Fla.; a sister, Vivian Hall of Atlanta; and a grandson.

Visitors will be received at the family's home in Ruxton from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. today and tomorrow. The family suggested memorial contributions to the cytopeutics program at the Johns Hopkins Hospital Oncology Center, in care of Dr. William P. McGuire. A memorial service for Robert W. Smith, a banker, retired bakery executive and former Navy pilot who was active in trapshooting and other sports, will be held at 11 a.m. today at Trinity Lutheran Church in Taneytown.

A Taneytown resident, he died March 17 of cancer at a hospital in Gettysburg, Pa. He was 79.

He retired in 1978 as vice president of Smith Bakeries Inc., a family business in Ladiesburg, and was chairman of the board of the Taneytown Bank and Trust Co.

Named to the Trapshooting Hall of Fame in 1985, Mr. Smith had won local, national and international trapshooting championships. He had been president and treasurer of the Amateur Trapshooting Association International and treasurer of the Maryland State Sportsmen's Association, another trapshooting group.

The native of Woodsboro was a 1936 graduate of Gettysburg College, where he was a member of the baseball team. He had pitched for sandlot teams in Central Maryland and was a member of the Oldtimers Baseball Association of Maryland.

During World War II, he was a Navy flight instructor. He was a civilian ferry pilot for military planes at the end of the war.

In the late 1940s, he owned planes and operated the Taneytown Airport. He was a captain and squadron commander in the Civil Air Patrol.

He was a member of the Monocacy Lodge of the Masons, nTC Scottish Rite, Boumi Temple, Western Maryland Shrine Club, Westminster Lodge of the Elks, the American Legion Post in Taneytown and the Taneytown Rod and Gun Club, and was a former member of the Carroll County Commission on Physical Fitness.

Mr. Smith is survived by his wife, the former Marjorie Matthews; two nephews, Webster C. Smith of Emmitsburg and John F. Meehan of Mechanicsburg, Pa., and a niece, Joanne Godfrey of Deep River, Conn.

Sam G. Browning

Executive vice president

Services for Sam G. Browning, retired executive vice president of what is now the USF&G Corp., will be held at 11 a.m. today at the Mitchell-Wiedefeld Home, 6500 York Road.

Mr. Browning, who was 84, died Thursday at his home in Arden on the Severn after a stroke.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.