Roger L. Marks, a former assistant superintendent of Baltimore County public schools who was later headmaster of Grace and St. Peter's School, died of pancreatic cancer Sunday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The longtime Bolton Hill resident was 72.
Mr. Marks was born in Washington and raised in Marbury, Charles County. He was a graduate of Lackey High School in Indian Head and earned his bachelor's degree in education in 1957 from what is now Towson University.
He earned a master's degree from Columbia University in 1961 and took additional graduate courses at the Johns Hopkins University and Loyola College.
Mr. Marks began teaching English at Dumbarton Middle School in 1957. He later was assistant principal at Loch Raven, Cockeysville and Stemmers Run junior high schools.
He was principal of Dumbarton Middle School and Hereford High School before being named the first coordinator of middle schools for the county school system in the mid-1980s. At his 1990 retirement, he was assistant superintendent for the central-area schools.
"He was a real pioneer in the middle-school movement and played a significant role in transforming our junior high schools into middle schools. This was a major achievement," said former Superintendent Robert Y. Dubel, who headed the Baltimore County public school system for 16 years before retiring in 1992. "He really understood adolescents and the instruction needed in the middle-school program."
He added: "Everyone liked Roger, who was also a great advocate of the arts, and he had a real affection for them. He made sure that art and music were infused into the middle-school curriculum."
"He always wanted what was best for his kids, and principals knew that the children had better be the first thing in their minds because they were in Roger's," said Dr. Richard E. Bavaria, vice president of education for Sylvan Learning Center, and a former Baltimore County public schools administrator.
"He was a smart, insightful and humorous gentleman who was interested in so many things," he said.
Mr. Marks, a longtime communicant, junior and senior warden, and vestryman of Grace and St. Peter's Episcopal Church in the city's Mount Vernon neighborhood, served as headmaster of its parish school from 1990 to 1996.
"He was a hard worker and a marvelous headmaster who turned the school around. He got its budget balanced and was very good with the children, parents and staff," said the Rev. Frederick Thomas, the church's rector.
"He was a very witty man and very passionate about whatever he did," said Sandy Shull, the school's present headmistress.
After a devastating 1994 ice storm caused the church's roof to collapse, Mr. Marks assisted in the restoration of the church interior, and chaired the fund that restored its damaged organ.
"Roger was one of those people who are generous and quite willing to give of their time, themselves and money," Father Thomas said. "He was a treasure."
Mr. Marks was an aficionado of reed organs, and his private collection of 10 - the oldest dating to 1830 - was displayed in his West Lafayette Avenue home.
In recent years, he also operated a small organ restoration business, Bartley & Marks, with Steven Bartley.
"I wouldn't say that he played the organ, but he played at it," said his wife of 48 years, the former Alice Smith. A retired Baltimore County public schools music teacher, she first met her future husband when both were teachers at Dumbarton Middle School.
Mr. Marks, a fan of English music, enjoyed traveling to England for choral festivals and to visit his two favorite cities, London and Canterbury.
A Requiem Mass will be offered at noon Saturday at his church, at Monument Street and Park Avenue.
Also surviving are a son, John Martin Marks of Bolton Hill; a granddaughter; a niece and several nephews.