James Albert Colimore Sr., 86, wrote entertainment column, was glider pilot

July 16, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

James Albert Colimore Sr., a highly decorated World War II glider pilot and entertainment columnist who chronicled Baltimore's night life for more than 25 years, died Sunday of leukemia at St. Joseph Medical Center. He was 86.

Mr. Colimore began his newspaper career delivering papers for the News-Post and Sunday American in the late 1920s and later joined the newspaper's advertising department. He retired in 1979.

His column "Table Talk," which evolved into "After Dark," recorded the foibles and vagaries of the city's nightclub owners, restaurateurs and entertainers who performed in such legendary late-night watering holes as the Chanticleer at Charles at Eager streets.

The Chanticleer, of which he later became part owner, and its successor, One West, once played host to the cream of the entertainment world -- including Henny Youngman, Sophie Tucker, Zero Mostel, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Merv Griffin and Walter Winchell -- when they played Baltimore.

Known as Jimmy, the Lutherville resident was known for his infectious and likable personality and easygoing manner.

Born and raised on Baltimore's Market Place, Mr. Colimore was a graduate of City College and Strayer's Business College.

He earned his pilot's license and bought a Piper Cub with several friends in the late 1930s.

He was 32 at the beginning of World War II, and was considered too old to be a fighter pilot, so he volunteered for the Army Air Corps' new glider program, whose pilots eventually numbered 5,000.

After training, he was sent to Europe in 1943 as part of the 88th Squadron of the 438th Troop Carrier Group.

With the name of his wife and newborn son painted on the glider's side -- Scrimmie and Jimmy -- Mr. Colimore landed on D-Day near Ste.-Mere-Eglise, France, behind enemy lines. He also participated in the famous Market Garden operation in the Netherlands, which historian Cornelius Ryan recorded in "A Bridge Too Far," and his third mission was Operation Varsity, which landed in Germany.

His decorations included the Purple Heart, two Presidential Citations, three Air Medals, the Spearhead and 10 Battle Stars, and the Orange Lanyard, the highest Dutch order for valor.

"Here was this man who suffered through all of these terrible experiences during World War II and comes back to write a column about nightclubs. His war record always impressed me," recalled William Stump, former editorial page editor of the News American.

Mr. Colimore recently completed his wartime memoirs, "Gliding to Glory," for family members and former glider pilots. He was discharged with the rank of lieutenant at war's end.

In addition to his newspaper work, Mr. Colimore also operated a theatrical booking agency and handled such clients as the late ++ composer Frank Zappa, a nephew, who founded the Mothers of Invention.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered for Mr. Colimore at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Roman Catholic Church of the Nativity, 1800 Vista Lane, Timonium, where he was a communicant.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, the former Margaret L. Williams; two sons, James A. Colimore Jr. of Phoenix, Baltimore County, and Edward B. Colimore of Lumberton, N.J.; a daughter, Karen Lee Childs of Rodgers Forge; a brother, Vincent J. Colimore of Cockeysville; two sisters, Fifi Delores Guest of Santee, Calif., and Rose Marie Zappa of North Hollywood, Calif.; and seven grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to the Leukemia Society of America Inc., Maryland Chapter, 8600 LaSalle Road, Suite 602, Towson 21286.

Pub Date: 7/16/96

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