Paul Michael Levin, 51, O'Malley's March member

May 30, 2002|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Paul Michael Levin, an Irish pipe player who was a founder of the band O'Malley's March and an official of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County technology center, died Tuesday of a brain tumor at his parents' home in Pikesville. He was 51 and lived in Timonium.

Mr. Levin was the second member of the popular six-member Irish band to die this year. Bass guitar player Robert Baum died of a stroke March 27.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Howard Park and Pikesville, Mr. Levin was a 1968 graduate of McDonogh School. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a master's degree from Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y., where he studied the Waldorf system of childhood education.

He was one of several young schoolteachers who in the mid-1970s opened a Waldorf School in Baltimore's Coldspring Newtown community. He taught at the school about five years and remained on its board.

In the 1980s, he became a building manager for local commercial real estate companies, including Partners Management, Manekin Corp. and the MacKenzie Cos. Since 1998, he had been director of the UMBC Technology Center and Research Park in the old Martin-Marietta building on Rolling Road in Relay.

Mr. Levin learned to play the flute as a child. He spent several summers in the mid-1970s in Ireland where, according to family members, he became enamored of traditional Celtic music -- and the uilleann pipes.

"It's that haunting, reedy `nyah' sound that gives it an other-worldly edge," Mr. Levin said in a Sun interview for a 1994 profile.

In 1988, he was a co-founder -- with now-Mayor Martin O'Malley and Frank Schwartz -- of an Irish folk trio that evolved into O'Malley's March.

"He was like an older brother that I never had," Mayor O'Malley said last night. "He had an amazing gift for bringing out the best in his friends. That was especially true during these last few months as he battled brain cancer. I never saw him bitter. He was someone who lived life to the fullest."

"He was the heart of the band," said Jared Denhard, who plays Celtic harp, trombone and bagpipes in the group. "Paul was really the traditional element. He was steeped in the culture of the Irish session musician who knew hundreds of jigs, reels and slow airs. As the band grew more modern, he kept us rooted in that Celtic tradition. He dedicated his life to playing that music."

"Drop into McGinn's ... some Saturday night and have a look at the fellow playing the odd-looking bagpipe," said the 1994 Sun profile of Mr. Levin. "His haunting music harkens to the Celtic players of old."

"He was very popular with customers, very friendly, one of my favorite members of the band," said Stephanie Niehenke, a manager of Mick O'Shea's Irish Pub on Charles Street.

"He had a long experience in property management, but I'll never forget the first time I saw O'Malley's March," said Ellen Hemmerley, the technology park's executive director. "I expected sedate Irish music, and, of course, I was wrong."

Services will be held at noon today at Sol Levinson and Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville.

He is survived by his partner, Samantha Stern Davis of Timonium; a son, Daniel Michael Levin of Baltimore; two daughters, Hannah Rose Levin and Helen Nancy Levin, both of Baltimore; his parents, Naomi and Dr. Norman Levin; two brothers, Harold Levin of Baltimore and Dr. Theodore Robert Levin of Oakland, Calif.; and a sister, Geraldine Gomery of Ipswich, Mass.

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