Joseph L. Flaherty III

A telecommunications administrator and videographer for a law firm, he played bass guitar in local bands.

December 11, 2008|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,

Joseph Leo Flaherty III, a telecommunications worker who played bass guitar in local bands, died of esophageal cancer Friday at Gilchrist Hospice Center. The former Medfield resident was 56.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Garrison Boulevard and on Mohawk Avenue in Forest Park, he began playing at age 12 on a guitar he received at Christmas. While attending Cardinal Gibbons High School, he added art to his interests. Family members said that in the late 1960s, school officials ordered him to cut his hair. He returned the next day, cut just one hair and left the school, completing his studies at Northwestern High School.

He studied painting, video and film with Robert Harding at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where he earned an undergraduate degree. He later earned a master's degree in counseling from Loyola College. He also studied music recording at the Peabody Conservatory.

As a young man, he delivered letters for a downtown courier and was then hired at the old Piper and Marbury law firm, where he initially worked in the mailroom but soon became its telecommunications administrator and videographer. He spent 20 years at the firm.

"Joe was free-spirited - not a religious person, but spiritual," said a former Piper co-worker, Darlene LaFlame. "He had a great work ethic and made a lot of friends here. He made a lot of friends wherever he went."

Mr. Flaherty later worked in telephones and communications at Mercy Medical Center in downtown Baltimore.

Mr. Flaherty, who owned numerous guitars, often played a Fender Stratocaster. In the 1970s, he performed with a local group, Ozz. Over the years he played with Wayne's World at the Cat's Eye Pub in Fells Point, the Poplar Inn in Dundalk and an annual Oktoberfest in Freeland. He also performed original compositions at a coffeehouse at St. John's United Methodist Church in Hamilton and at the Antreasian Gallery in Hampden.

"His knowledge of music was unbelievable," said Joe Swiss, a friend and fellow musician. "He loved the idea of playing original compositions rather than cover versions of other composers' music."

He used his digital technology skills to blend photography with music and had a music studio in the basement of his home.

Mr. Flaherty was regularly called upon to drive his fellow musicians in their vans or converted commercial trucks. He was known as a steady driver, and family members said he never had an accident.

"He was more than a band member," said musician Bill Smythe. "He was our philosopher and our ambassador."

Friends recalled Mr. Flaherty's ability to listen.

"He was always wonderful to talk to and was never egotistically assertive," said artist Raoul Middleman, who painted a large portrait of Mr. Flaherty and displayed it at his funeral Tuesday. "He had a great humane intelligence and a feeling for other people. He was a gentle, courteous and civil person."

Survivors include a sister, Linda M Flaherty of Baltimore, and many cousins.

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