George Garrity

[ Age 69 ] The college administrator enjoyed playing pinochle, travel and season tickets to the Hippodrome

November 20, 2006|By Greg Garland | Greg Garland,sun reporter

George S. Garrity, a retired administrator at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, died of pancreatic cancer Thursday at his home in the Overlea area of Baltimore County. He was 69.

Mr. Garrity was director of contracts and grants at the university until his retirement in 2003. He died a month after his cancer was diagnosed.

His former boss, Marjorie Forster, an assistant vice president in the university's office of research and development, said Mr. Garrity "was universally loved by the people with whom he worked."

She said he was a patient, kindhearted man who was "always the first to volunteer" when someone needed help. "It was only four or five weeks ago that we learned he was sick," she said. "People on campus are still reeling." He worked for the university for 37 years.

His wife, the former Marie Bentkowski, said she and her husband met 40 years ago at the old Howard Street Bowling Alley in downtown Baltimore. Her sister, who worked with Mr. Garrity at a local canning company near Fells Point, talked the then-Miss Bentkowski into joining a bowling league that Mr. Garrity was organizing.

The relationship got off to a memorable, if humorous, start, Mrs. Garrity said.

"He sat on my peanut-butter crackers and when he got up to bowl, they were stuck to the back of his pants," she said. "We had a good laugh." They ended the evening with drinks and a long conversation that led to a budding romance and to their marriage a little more than a year later.

A mentor encouraged him to pursue his education, and Mr. Garrity earned a bachelor's degree from University of Baltimore in 1975, Mrs. Garrity said.

Mrs. Garrity said her husband loved travel and the theater, and was delighted when the Hippodrome opened in Baltimore and bought season subscriptions.

At the time of his death, he was serving as president of the Quo Vadis Democratic Club, which meets twice a month in Fells Point.

"It's used as a social club, primarily," Mrs. Garrity said. "The last few years my husband has voted Republican, but I don't think he told that to them." She said he enjoyed the camaraderie of the club and played pinochle there and at Seven Oaks Senior Citizens Center.

Robert Bouse, a close friend, said Mr. Garrity was "really down to earth. He was the kind of fellow if you asked him to do something, he'd say, `Fine.'"

Mr. Bouse, 87, said he no longer drives at night and that Mr. Garrity would pick him up on the first and third Thursdays of the month to go to the Democratic club meetings.

"We had a lot in common," Mr. Bouse said. "We liked to play cards, pinochle. He and I were on the board of the trustees of the St. Patrick's Parish School and Orphan Asylum together."

The two men and their wives got to know each other at St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Fells Point, where the Garritys helped run fundraisers and carnivals.

Their work with the church led them to start a travel club in 1981 to help pay for repairs after a fire at the church, Mrs. Garrity said. They signed 63 people up for a trip to Bermuda and made $8,000.

Mrs. Garrity said the travel club has continued to operate since then, raising money for a variety of charities, most of them involved in work with the homeless.

"We've done close to 300 trips," she said.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today at St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church, 10 Willow Ave., Overlea.

In addition to his wife of 39 years, survivors include a daughter, Michelle Blanch of Parkville; a sister, Jeanette Zimmerman of White Marsh; and a grandson.

greg.garland@baltsun.com

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