John Jay Pecora

[Age 89] The civil engineer and veteran of World War II founded a construction firm based in Baltimore's Mount Vernon.

February 21, 2007|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,sun reporter

John Jay Pecora, a civil engineer who founded a Mount Vernon-based construction company and was active in his industry's professional circles, died Sunday of complications from cancer and Alzheimer's disease at Stella Maris Hospice. The Roland Park resident was 89.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Eldorado Avenue, he was a 1935 graduate of Forest Park High School. He earned a degree in civil engineering from the Johns Hopkins University and taught the subject while serving in the Army during World War II.

Soon after his military service, he founded Allied Contractors - naming it for the war's allied forces.

"His friends in the business called him Allied's General Patton," said a son, Richard Frank Pecora of Baltimore, a former secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment. "He said he took on the impossible to make it possible."

Mr. Pecora's company built bridges, schools, industrial facilities and shopping centers - and led some of the city's early redevelopment efforts.

In the mid-1960s, Mr. Pecora built Bolton Hill townhouses between Lanvale Street and Lafayette Avenue on a site that was formerly part of Linden Avenue. He also built a pedestrian plaza at Charles and Saratoga streets as part of the Charles Center project. More recently, his firm reconstructed City Hall Plaza.

"He loved Baltimore all his life and was proud to be a part of its rejuvenation," his son said yesterday. In 1993, the Engineering Society of Baltimore presented him with its Founders Award for "his inspiring counseling of young engineers and his fulfillment of civic responsibilities." He also was chairman of the Technical Committee of the Baltimore-Genoa Sister Cities Committee and was a volunteer consultant to the city Public Works Museum at the Inner Harbor.

Then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer named Mr. Pecora to the State Board of Architectural Review in 1994.

Mr. Pecora's business, which remains in operation, is located on East Preston Street. Friends said he believed in supporting that neighborhood and served as president of the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Improvement Association from 1985 to 1991.

He was a past president of the Maryland Society of Professional Engineers and set up a scholarship program. He also endowed a partial engineering scholarship at the Johns Hopkins University, which in 1993 named him a distinguished alumnus.

He was a past president of Associated Italian-American Charities, where he also co-founded a scholarship fund, and was a past president of the Society of American Military Engineers.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5300 N. Charles St.

Survivors also include his wife of more than 48 years, the former Hazel Mae Mask; another son, Robin John Pecora of Baltimore; a daughter, Brigid Bertazon of Phoenix, Baltimore County; three sisters, Antoinetta Kingan of Timonium, Palmina "Bess" Butler of Towson and Grace Kreig of Lutherville; and three grandchildren.

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