Howard Jay Litofsky, 60, special education teacher


Howard Jay Litofsky, a special education teacher at Baltimore's Chinquapin Middle School for 28 years, died of sepsis April 10 at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air. He was 60 and lived in Forest Hill.

Born in Baltimore, he graduated from City College in 1965. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Baltimore, and attended UB's School of Law for a time. But he soon transferred to what is now Coppin State University, where he earned his master's degree in education.

In 1975, he married Barbara Hoffman. In addition to their children, the couple raised their young niece and nephew after the children's parents died.

Mr. Litofsky taught in the Baltimore school system for 32 years, including 28 years in special education social studies at Chinquapin, where he received the school's Teacher of the Year award several years ago.

He was a "great teacher," said Almenta Bell, who was principal at Chinquapin from 1994 to 1999.

"There was nothing I could ask him to do at school that he would not do," she said. "He was kind and gentle, and took time with the children. Sometimes they'd be having a very difficult time ... and he would sit down and say, `Tell me what's wrong, and how can we fix it?'"

Two years ago, his wife recalled, while their daughter was recovering from heart surgery, Mr. Litofsky had a visit from a former student, who had become a security guard.

"`Mr. L., I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for you. You taught me and guided me,'" he said.

Mrs. Litofsky said, "He got on the right road and has a job. ... That made [my husband's] day, even though his daughter was so sick."

Mr. Litofsky "was just a very avid teacher," she said. "He would go into after-school groups, trying to see the best way to break through to these children to help them. And he stayed with it all those years, always in the city."

Although he talked about retirement, he was still teaching just days before he died, his wife said. "They still needed him. He was very torn."

Mr. Litofsky was also a sports enthusiast and held season tickets to the Ravens and Orioles. He also enjoyed pro wrestling, both on television and at ringside, and was a faithful supporter of his grandson's soccer, baseball and football events.

He enjoyed traveling with his family to Florida, Ocean City, Las Vegas and the Pocono Mountains, and was a member and past president of the B'nai B'rith Reisterstown-Owings Mills Lodge.

Funeral services were Tuesday.

In addition to his wife of 30 years, he is survived by a son, Lee Litofsky of Baltimore; a daughter, Natalie Litofsky of Forest Hill; his niece, Pam Hoffman Long of Forest Hill, and nephew, Steven Hoffman of Taneytown; two brothers, Arthur Litofsky of Jupiter, Fla., and Jerry Litofsky of Baltimore; and three grandchildren.

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