J.H.L. Chambers II, headed family's interior design company

August 13, 1993|By Holly Selby | Holly Selby,Staff Writer

J.H.L. Chambers II, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the H. Chambers Co., one of Maryland's largest interior design companies, died Wednesday at his home in the Bahamas after a three-year battle with cancer.

Affectionately referred to by friends as the last "great English gentleman," the 66-year-old Baltimore native was a man of impeccable appearance and manners and a member of the national Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

"He was the consummate gentleman," said H. Mebane Turner, president of the University of Baltimore, who met Mr. Chambers while playing squash about 25 years ago.

"He was a Naval Academy graduate, and his business required a great deal of poise and the combination of those characteristics was impressive. But he was sincere -- the bearing reflected the man," Mr. Turner said.

Born in March 1927, James Henry Leroy Chambers II graduated from McDonogh School in Baltimore and was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Although he didn't play lacrosse at McDonogh, Mr. Chambers made the varsity team during his first year at the academy. During his four years of play there, he scored goals in every

game and was selected as a Lacrosse All-American in 1948 and 1949. He received both the Turnbull Trophy and the Naval Academy Athletic Association Award as the most outstanding athlete in the Class of 1949.

About 20 years later, Mr. Chambers and his firm designed the first Lacrosse Hall of Fame, on the Johns Hopkins University campus. He later was inducted into the hall.

Mr. Chambers also graduated from the Parsons School of Design in New York City and attended the Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University School of Business.

He joined the family business in 1953; seven years later, he began expanding it into international markets. In 1972, he opened an office in the Bahamas.

I= Mr. Chambers maintained two residences, one at Mt. Vernon

Square and one in the Bahamas; in 1980 he sold his Baltimore home and moved permanently to Lyford Cay.

Under his guidance, the Baltimore firm -- known for timeless, classic residential designs -- broadened its scope to include hotels, country clubs, health-care facilities, yachts, airplanes and cruise ships.

Because of Mr. Chambers, the company is known for its designs in such disparate projects as traditional Guilford homes, the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, the Sheraton Hotel in Kuwait City and two large Princess Cruises luxury liners -- the Princess Regal and the Crown Princess.

An avid squash player, he was a member of the Baltimore Country Club and the Maryland Club.

Mr. Chambers was a founding member of the American Institute of Designers and was a member of the American Society of Interior Designers.

He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Katherine Tyson Chambers of Lyford Cay; three sons, J.H.L. Chambers III of Charlotte, N.C., Howard W. Chambers of Baltimore and Dr. Theodore Chambers of Pittsburgh; two stepsons, Daniel W. Leubecker of Rockville and Stephen Tyson Leubecker of Chevy Chase; two aunts, Mrs. George Glazier and Mrs. John Ostendorf of Baltimore; five grandchildren; and two step-grand children.

Mr. Chambers will be buried in the Bahamas, and a private memorial service is planned.

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