Charles V. Fertitta, 94, swing-era orchestra

September 18, 2004

Charles Vincent Fertitta, whose swing-era society orchestra entertained at numerous Baltimore hotels, clubs and social gatherings during the 1930s and 1940s, died of Alzheimer's disease Sunday at Riverview Care Center in Essex. He was 94.

Mr. Fertitta was born in Baltimore and raised on Maine Avenue in Forest Park. He was a 1931 graduate of City College.

In his youth, he learned to play the drums and saxophone and founded the Charles Vincent Orchestra - "Tops in Fine Music" - in the late 1920s.

For nearly 30 years, the eight- to 12-piece orchestra played many black-tie affairs and private parties. It played at senior proms and at fraternity, sorority and country club dances.

The band regularly held engagements at the Emerson Hotel's Chesapeake Room and the Blue Room at the Alcazar Hotel. It also provided music at the Rennert Hotel, Mount Holly Inn and the Summit on Old Pimlico Road. He disbanded the orchestra in the early 1950s.

"He also played the Dixie Ballroom, Gwynn Oak Park, Carlin's Park and the Belvedere Hotel," said his daughter, Mary Lynn Miller of Hunt Valley.

In 1947, Mr. Fertitta established the Mayfield Music Center in the 3000 block of Belair Road, which sold sheet music, records and photo equipment, and repaired RCA television sets and radios.

After the store burned in a fire in the 1950s, Mr. Fertitta declared bankruptcy and reopened the store as Mayfield Stationery. In addition to offering piano and guitar lessons, he had a line of stationery, greeting cards and home office supplies.

The longtime Yolando Road resident closed the business and retired in 1992.

He was a member of the Highland Lodge of the Masons.

Mr. Fertitta was married for 25 years to the former Elizabeth K. Roycroft, who died in 1965. In 1968, he married Dorothy E. Belcher, who died in 1988.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Oct. 4 at St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church, 8030 Bradshaw Road, Bradshaw.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Fertitta is survived by a son, Frank S. Fertitta of Pasadena; a stepdaughter, Sandra Kels of Baltimore; a sister, Sadie Conner of Westminster; and five grandchildren.

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