Glenn Collins Peck, 67, founded sharpening firm

August 17, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Glenn Collins Peck, whose industrial sharpening business helped keep edges sharp on precision cutting tools and machines, died Wednesday at the Stella Maris Hospice Unit in Mercy Medical Center of cancer. The Timonium resident was 67.

Mr. Peck who was a scion of a Baltimore family that had been in the saw and knife grinding business since 1846, left Polytechnic Institute during World War II to help his father in the business when his four older brothers enlisted in the service.

He went to work at Toland and Son on Front Street, near the Shot Tower, where he learned what eventually became his life's work.

"They used to be called saw- smiths, and their places of business were called saw shops," said his wife of 49 years, the former Patricia Carroll.

"When he was 29, he went out on his own and started his own business," Mrs. Peck said. He had "an anvil in the trunk of his car, which he took to lumber mills in the woods and set up on a stump, where he straightened damaged blades.

"A knowledge of blacksmithing was necessary, because you have to know where to hit the blade to make it straight," she said.

His Dixie Saw and Manufacturing Co., expanded from a shop on Light Street to a larger one on Eden Street, and eventually to the company's current location on Loch Raven Road.

Today, the business, which is known nationwide and is the only such specialty shop in Baltimore, sharpens the blades of large milling cutters that are used to cut steel beams and bridge plates.

Much of the work is of the custom variety including the fabrication of band saw blades.

"We really are unique," said plant manager Sandy Campbell, who was hired by Mr. Peck. "He was the kind of man who would drop what he was doing if someone needed something quickly, and in this business most everyone does. He was a good teacher and a man who could help engineer a job so as to keep down costs."

Mr. Peck instilled in his employees a high regard for their customers. Said Mrs. Campbell: "He told us, 'No matter what happens to me, you've got customers out there, and you have to take care of them.' "

Despite the nature of his business, said his daughter Vanita Linder of Lutherville, "The funny thing is that our knives at home were always dull."

Mr. Peck's creativeness extended to the fully rigged sailing vessels he constructed and to the restoration of clocks and antiques he collected. He also collected watercolors and oils and enjoyed writing poetry.

A man who didn't complete high school, he was insistent that all of the family's children attend college, his daughter said.

"He was self-made man who worked with his hands, and we didn't have a lot of money starting and expanding the business," Mrs. Peck said. "But he made sure that our children went on to college because he hadn't been able to. All of them are college graduates, and he was so proud of them."

Born in the city's Hamilton section and raised in Stoneleigh, Mr. Peck attended city schools until he was 16.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Ruck Towson funeral home, 1050 York Road.

In addition his wife and daughter, Mr. Peck is survived by two sons, Glenn Peck Jr. of Larchmont, N.Y., and Peter Peck of Timonium; another daughter, Robyn Spragins of Chadds Ford, Pa.; three brothers, Gwynn Peck and Donald Peck, both of Baltimore, and Wells Peck of Sarasota, Fla.; and nine grandchildren.

Pub Date: 8/17/96

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