Townsend, 67, was YMCA executive

T. H.

October 08, 1993|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Staff Writer

Theodore H. Townsend, a retired YMCA executive and fund-raiser, died Oct. 1 of cancer at his Hunting Ridge home. He was 67.

He retired in 1986 from the Greater Baltimore YMCA, where he had been vice president for development since 1984.

From 1976 to 1980, he worked for the American City/Bureau Beaver, a nationally known, Chicago-based organization that raises money for human services. He left there when his wife, the former Elizabeth Pasternak of Utica, N.Y., whom he married in 1948, came to Baltimore to establish the Southwest Senior Center near Union Square, which is operated by COIL (Communities Organized to Improve Life).

A native of Waterville, N.Y., he graduated from high school there in 1944 and joined the Navy, seeing duty as a bugler.

After World War II, he went back to school and earned a bachelor's degree in 1948 from Miami University of Ohio. He did graduate work at George Williams College and was to get his master's degree in 1952 but misplaced his thesis.

"He was riding on the Chicago elevated and left his thesis by mistake on the seat," his wife remembered. "There were no copying machines in those days, and in spite of placing signs asking for its return, it never appeared. So he had to sit down and write it all over again and didn't earn his master's until 1957."

It was while he was in graduate school that he began his career with the YMCA as director in Chicago, from 1948 to 1952.

He then moved to Chambersburg, Pa., where he established a YMCA in the mid-1950s.

He also worked for the YMCA in Gettysburg, Pa.; Providence, R.I.; Laconia, N.H.; and Philadelphia.

In 1974, he earned a master's in public administration from thWharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

"It was while we were living in Laconia that he said he couldn't see spending the rest of his life in the country, that he had to work in the city where people needed him," his wife said.

"He was driven, a reformer, and he was interested in helping community groups go ahead with their ideas in solving urban problems," she said.

After his retirement, he became a neighborhood "Mr. Fix-it," helping neighbors repair their homes. He also helped his wife at the Southwest Senior Center, advising her on fund-raising and other matters.

"He would come to our functions and give moral support to the people there and to Betty," remembered Dan Callahan, executive director of COIL.

"He loved music and played trumpet in the Stardusters, a band JTC back home when we were high school sweethearts," Mrs. Townsend said.

"He continued playing trumpet solos at area churches and family gatherings, and singing in choirs. He had a real talent for music," she said.

He also enjoyed the outdoors, particularly camping and canoeing in the back country of the Adirondacks and Maine. "He liked an isolated spot under the trees where the phone didn't ring," his wife said.

A memorial service is set for noon tomorrow at the McKeldin Area of Patapsco Valley State Park on Marriottsville Road.

He is also survived by a son, Mark Townsend of Schenectady, N.Y.; two daughters, Marjory Townsend of Wenonah, N.J., and Susan Townsend of Mount Rainier; two brothers, Frederick G. Townsend of Hilton, N.Y., and Wilfred H. Townsend of Bergen, N.Y.; three sisters, Elizabeth T. Millard of Zephyrhills, Fla., Margery T. Goodnough of McGaheysville, Va., and Dorothea T. Mikelson of Schenectady; three grandchildren; and a special family friend, Janice Birkhead.

The family suggested memorial contributions to the Visiting Nurses Association-Hospice Fund, 6000 Metro Drive, Suite 101, Baltimore, Md. 21215-3227.

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