Samuel Pistorio, 96, builder who trained horses, built Turf Valley country club

November 23, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Samuel M. Pistorio, who for 50 years built houses, apartments, office buildings and a shopping center in Baltimore, died of heart failure Wednesday at St. Agnes HealthCare.

Mr. Pistorio, 96, of Catonsville was perhaps best known for his purchase in the late 1940s of a 1,000-acre horse farm in Howard County that he converted into the Turf Valley country club, the county's first.

"He was a man with a lot of insight," said Theodore Lawden of Baltimore, a colleague who knew Mr. Pistorio for nearly 30 years. "He seemed to have a gift to know what might do well and invest in it. Few of his projects failed."

In the late 1920s, he founded Samuel M. Pistorio Co., which prospered in the 1930s by building hundreds of houses between York Road and Loch Raven Boulevard in Northeast Baltimore. Another of his successes was Alameda Shopping Center.

Mr. Pistorio, a horse-racing enthusiast who trained and bred horses, won many stakes races in New York, Florida and Maryland. He was a former vice president and director of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and a past director of the Maryland State Fair and Agricultural Society.

He kept most of his horses in stables at Pistorio Farms, a large tract at Turf Valley country club.

"It was just his hobby. It was something that he and [his wife] enjoyed," said his niece, Angela Rossetti of Ocean City.

A Baltimore native, Mr. Pistorio attended City College and the Maryland Institute, College of Art, where he studied architecture. He went on to work as a bricklayer for his father's construction firm, which built houses in West Baltimore and Hamilton, before he started his business.

Despite his financial success, Mr. Pistorio lived in a modest brick Catonsville rowhouse. In recent years, he made several large donations to his favorite charities.

He donated $2 million to Mount de Sales Academy in Catonsville this year for an athletic complex that includes a gymnasium with bleacher seating for 500, locker rooms and offices.

Last month, Cardinal William H. Keeler presided over the dedication of the Constance & Samuel Pistorio Sports Complex.

Mr. Pistorio married the former Constance Eulo in 1923; she died in 1994. He is survived by two sisters, Jean Neubert and Angelina Casale, both of Howard County; and a brother, Dominic J. Pistorio of Baltimore.

A Mass of Christian burial was to be offered at 10 a.m. today at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church, 5422 Old Frederick Road.

Pub Date: 11/23/98

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