James S. McGarity

[ Age 81 ] Radio and TV sales executive

May 30, 2007

James S. McGarity, a former Baltimore radio and TV sales executive who helped bring the Romper Room show to numerous cities, died yesterday of prostate cancer complications at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Mount Washington resident was 81.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Madeira Street, he left Patterson Park High School to enlist in the Navy during World War II. He landed on D-Day at Utah Beach after his ship was damaged transporting troops. He swam to shore and temporarily joined an infantry unit. He later served in the Pacific aboard the destroyer escort USS Horace A. Bass.

After the war, he became a liquor and wine salesman and managed Wargo's restaurant in Parkville.

In the 1960s, he traveled across the country selling the Romper Room program to local television stations as part of Bert Claster Productions.

"He would set the show up and help select the `Miss Nancys' - or whatever her name might be," said his wife of 20 years, the former Patsy McColgan MacIsaac, referring to the preschooler-show's host and star character.

Mr. McGarity sold advertising for other Claster productions, including Duckpins for Dollars, a bowling show hosted by John Bowman, and Pinbusters.

In the 1970s, Mr. McGarity worked for the old WFBR-AM, and sold advertising as part of its "Mad Radio" staff. Radio personality Johnny Walker occasionally lampooned Mr. McGarity on the air.

"He took his job seriously and was fun to be around," said Harry R. Shriver Jr., the radio station's retired general manager.

Mr. McGarity retired to Florida in the 1980s and returned to Baltimore in the 1990s.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.

Survivors also include two sons, Neal McGarity of Trumbull, Conn., and James McGarity of Atlanta; a daughter, Maureen McGarity of St. Louis; and five grandchildren. Earlier marriages ended in divorce.

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