James Beach Platt Jr., 91, head of family-owned firms

January 01, 2004

James Beach Platt Jr., past president of Stone Industrial Corp. and Platt & Co., two family-owned businesses, died of congestive heart failure Sunday at the Lutherville home of his son. He was 91.

Mr. Platt was born in Baltimore and raised on St. Paul Street. He was a 1929 Gilman School graduate and earned a bachelor's degree in history in 1933 from the University of Virginia.

After earning his master's degree in business in 1935 from the Harvard Business School, he returned to Baltimore to operate Platt Corp., a family business that was founded in 1848. The company manufactured fiber cans and tubes in a Key Highway building that is now the home of the Baltimore Museum of Industry. He was a former president of the Composite Can and Tube Association.

In 1945, Mr. Platt went to Washington to assist Stone Industrial Corp. and later became president of the company. He was the grandnephew of Marvin C. Stone, who invented the artificial drinking straw and established the business in 1888.

In 1949, the company purchased Cherry Smash, a popular soft drink, which Mr. Platt later sold to Suburban Club after reinventing the flavor. The soft drink is now known as Almond Smash.

After selling Stone Industrial Corp. to Clarcor in 1975, he remained as head of the Stone Industrial Division until retiring in 1977.

Mr. Platt also served as president from 1952 until 1972 of Platt & Co. Inc., a Towson real estate investment company that is operated by a son.

The longtime Chevy Chase resident, who had lived in Lutherville since last year, was a member and former president of the D.C. Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. He was also a former active communicant of St. Thomas Episcopal Church and All Saints' Episcopal Church, both in Washington.

Mr. Platt was a member of the Chevy Chase Club, Profile Club and Metunticook Golf Club in Camden, Maine. He also liked spending time at a second home he maintained in Sugar Hill, N.H.

In 1938, he married Helen Sage, who died in 1987. In 1988, he married Jane DeVeau, who died last year.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 232 St. Thomas Lane, Owings Mills.

Mr. Platt is survived by two sons, Dwight Sage Platt of Lutherville and James Beach Platt III of Reisterstown; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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