Thomas N. Pindell, 96, purchasing agent, founder of swimming club

April 26, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Thomas N. Pindell, a retired Black & Decker Corp. purchasing agent and founder of the Oregon Swimming Club, died of pneumonia Wednesday at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium. He was 96.

Mr. Pindell was born and raised in Cockeysville, the son of a grocer who operated a general store on York Road in the Baltimore County community.

He spent his early years growing up in the rectory of Sherwood Episcopal Church where his grandfather, the Rev. Adolphus Pindell, was rector for 40 years.

After graduating from Towson High School in 1925, Mr. Pindell began working in maintenance for Black & Decker. He was later promoted to production expediter before leaving in 1932 to supervise 11 Sanitary grocery stores.

He returned to the toolmaker in 1935 and, after declining a job in New York, joined with a brother and a cousin in establishing the Oregon Swimming Club in an abandoned quarry near Cockeysville.

He was president and treasurer of the swim club from 1936 until 1950, when he returned to Black & Decker as purchasing agent. He retired in 1971.

"Tom was a fine man and one of the nicest guys in the department. He was diligent and cared about his work. ... I always enjoyed working with him," said Hilda L. Wilson, who lives in Sparks and retired from Black & Decker in 1969.

David L. Pindell, a cousin who lives in Butler, worked as a lifeguard and general factotum at the swim club while he was in high school.

"In 1936, he and several other family members started the business in what was called the Oregon Quarry, a former iron ore quarry. It was very popular with people who drove out from downtown, Towson, Ruxton and Lutherville," said Mr. Pindell, a retired Alex. Brown & Sons stockbroker.

"While he managed a swim club, he didn't know how to swim," Mr. Pindell said.

"One day a tipsy woman from a well-known Baltimore County family was swimming, and he was afraid she might get in trouble. He told us to go out in the boat and bring her in. He said, `I don't care what you have to do - hit her over the head with an oar if you have to - but bring her in,'" he recalled, laughing.

"He and my mother cleared trees and made the beach wider," said Laura Olivia Pindell, a daughter who lives in Timonium. "There was a picnic area and a pavilion. We have pictures from the old days that show the parking lot filled with black sedans. It really was the place to go."

"He had all of the Pindell traits. He was stubborn, frugal and lovable. And he loved his family," his cousin said.

The swim club, which closed in 1950, was later reopened by Baltimore County as part of Oregon Ridge park.

Mr. Pindell was a lifelong member of Sherwood Episcopal Church where he had been a member of the vestry and served as the church's assistant treasurer. Often, he could be found working around the church, raking leaves or trimming hedges.

An avid vegetable gardener, Mr. Pindell worked in his garden until he was well into his 90s. On summer Sunday mornings before going to church, he would load up the trunk of his car with his freshly harvested produce.

"As the parishioners came out, he'd hand out bags of vegetables," said Emily T. Hirschman, another daughter, who lives in Freeland.

Mr. Pindell, who was a lifelong sports fan, had played semiprofessional baseball during the 1920s and 1930s for the Baltimore Athletic Club.

He was married for 67 years to the former Emily Frances White, who died in 2000.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Sherwood Episcopal Church, Sherwood and York roads, Cockeysville.

In addition to his daughters, Mr. Pindell is survived by three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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