James MacLaughlin, 56

Instrument maker

May 26, 2008

James A. "Gus" MacLaughlin, a musician and skilled instrument maker, died of lung cancer on May 18 at his home in Crofton. He was 56.

Mr. MacLaughlin was born in Havre de Grace, and lived in several U.S. cities while growing up in a military family. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 1974 with a degree in general studies. During the 1970s, he played banjo for a bluegrass band called the Hillcrest Mountain Boys.

Mr. MacLaughlin lived in various Maryland communities, including Hillcrest Heights and Takoma Park. He moved to Crofton in the 1990s.

For much of his adult life, he worked in the heating and air conditioning business, most recently at Lyon, Conklin & Co. He worked as a technical service representative, helping repairmen with difficult problems. He also taught repair classes.

His interests included music, camping, photography, woodworking, rock collecting, deer hunting and spending time with family and friends. He also made stringed instruments, including guitars and fiddles.

Mr. MacLaughlin was a longtime member of the National Rifle Association and the St. Charles Sportsman Club. He also loved cooking.

"He was the kind of cook who didn't need recipes," said his daughter, Jamie Grace MacLaughlin of Crofton. "It came naturally to him."

A funeral was held Thursday. Mr. MacLaughlin was interred at Lakemont Memorial Gardens in Davidsonville.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife of 30 years, Mary "Mimi" MacLaughlin of Crofton; and a brother, Tom MacLaughlin of Indian Head.

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