George S. Tyler III, 69, Annapolis entrepreneur who owned restaurants

August 25, 2004|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

George Severn Tyler III, an Annapolis entrepreneur who established restaurants, sold antiques and worked as a general construction superintendent until sailing away on his boat to a new life in the Caribbean, died of complications from an infection Aug. 18 at his summer home in St. Michaels. He was 69.

Mr. Tyler was born in Baltimore and raised on Light Street. After graduating from Southern High School in 1953, he attended the University of Baltimore.

He went to work as a boilermaker, but after being injured in an industrial accident in the early 1960s started renovating rowhouses on Capitol Hill in Washington and operating his first antique shop.

Mr. Tyler moved to Annapolis in 1966 and three years later opened Marmaduke's Pub in the city's Eastport section.

He later owned and operated several other successful restaurants, including Captain's Table in Annapolis, Steamboat Landing and Backfin, both in Galesville, and the St. Michaels Inn.

An accomplished yachtsman, Mr. Tyler competed in many races on the Chesapeake Bay and in the fabled Annapolis-Newport and Newport-Bermuda races aboard his sloop, Tippecanoe. He also served as a helmsman aboard the American Eagle, a yacht owned by cable television mogul Ted Turner, who was a friend.

"George was always something of a visionary, which he combined with his business acumen," said Fred Arnold of Galesville, a longtime friend. "He knew that sailors and yachtsman had discretionary income and they needed a place of their own to hang their hats.

"And that was the driving force behind Marmaduke's. He created a place where they could gather and socialize, realizing at the same time that it was a growth business. In his own way, he helped make Annapolis the sailing destination it is today."

From 1976 to 1987, while living in Galesville and working as general superintendent for the Oliver T. Carr Co. of Washington, Mr. Tyler restored his Victorian home on Main Street.

During his tenure with the company, he oversaw construction in Washington of several high-rise office buildings and the nationally acclaimed restorations of the historic Willard Hotel and the Occidental Restaurant.

But then his life took a sea change.

"He came home one day and said, `That's it, let's sell the house, buy a boat and go,'" said his wife of 25 years, the former Cindy Patterson.

"We were heading for the Mediterranean aboard our 50-foot sailboat, the Childe, and were at sea when the stock market crashed in October of 1987," she said. "We didn't realize it, but by the time we reached St. Croix, our cruising fund to which we had contributed for five years was gone. We were broke.

"So we went back to work while we lived for several years aboard the boat. We bought a deli and then a liquor store. Then we opened Schooner Bay Marketplace, a gourmet supermarket, the Pink Fancy Hotel and Stowaway Self-Storage," she said of their holdings on St. Croix island in the Virgin Islands.

The couple later purchased and restored "One North," a historic home in Christiansted on St. Croix. The home dates to the 1760s and now is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Mr. Tyler also was an authority on and collector of West Indian mahogany Colonial furniture.

"I would say obsessed would be a better word to describe his interest in this style of furniture," Mrs. Tyler said.

"He was an antiquarian in the true sense of the word and had a picker's eye," said Michael Connors, a friend who lives in Deer Isle, Maine, and on St. Croix. "He could spot something of value across a room very quickly."

Mrs. Tyler said her husband was "an aficionado" of opera and fine art. "He was a gourmet and a lover of life," she said.

Services are private.

Mr. Tyler also is survived by two sons, George S. Tyler IV of Davidsonville and Hamilton F. Tyler of Millersville; a daughter, Caroline Tyler Huddleston of Centreville in Queen Anne's County; a sister, Carol Baker of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and two grandsons. Previous marriages to the former Jean Keene and Elizabeth Rumsey Finkle ended in divorce.

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