Joseph S. Grabowski, 73, WJZ-TV projectionist, golfer

May 14, 2000|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Joseph S. Grabowski, a retired WJZ-TV projectionist and avid golfer, died Thursday of cancer at Harbor Hospital Center. The longtime Brooklyn Park resident was 73.

Mr. Grabowski, known as "TV Joe" or "Grabo," was a popular figure in the Television Hill studio of the station, where he began his career in 1958.

"Grabo was one of those guys who made the place work even though he was always behind the scenes in the tape room. It was not glamorous," WJZ-TV personality Marty Bass said Friday.

"He headed the operation that coordinated and got on the air commercials. What he did was important. It was the financial heart of the station. He was like a Jerry Turner or an Al Sanders, he was part of the fiber of WJZ," he said.

Mr. Bass recalled that what Mr. Grabowski once did painstakingly by hand is now fully automated.

"He was very proud of his work. He was an interesting, straight-A guy who always made it happen. He had commercials cued and ready to go," he said.

A man of medium build with glasses and slicked-back hair, Mr. Grabowski was described by Mr. Bass as having an infectious and likeable personality.

"He had a loud voice, but I wouldn't say he was particularly gregarious," Mr. Bass said. "He was one of those guys who came into television after the Korean War, took a job and raised a family."

Mr. Grabowski retired in 1987.

The Pottsville, Pa., native graduated from high school there and joined the Army in 1945.

He served for 10 years in facilities maintenance at military posts in Japan, Egypt, Austria and Okinawa.

He was discharged with the rank of master sergeant in 1955.

An avid golfer, Mr. Grabowski enjoyed playing in Ocean City and Myrtle Beach, S.C. In 1997, he was a member of the winning team in the annual Chilla-Cella Golf Tournament which was played that year in New Market, Frederick County.

For many years, he regularly played at Longview Golf Course in Timonium. More recently, he played at Diamond Ridge Golf Course in Woodlawn.

He also played billiards.

During the spring and summer, he enjoyed sitting on his back porch watching hummingbirds at his feeders.

He was a communicant of St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, 3803 Fourth St., Brooklyn, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, the former Gertrude Startzer; two daughters, Caroline Crooks of Ellicott City and Christine Jacobs of York, Pa.; and two granddaughters.

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