James P. Libertini, World War Ii Veteran

August 30, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen

James P. "JP" Libertini Sr., a decorated World War II veteran and Small Business Administration official who earlier had owned a construction company, died of a heart attack Aug. 15 at the Charlestown retirement community. The former Elkridge resident was 86.

Born in Baltimore, the son of Italian immigrant parents, Mr. Libertini was raised at Eden and Preston streets. He was a 1940 graduate of Polytechnic Institute and earned a bachelor's degree in engineering in 1944 from the Johns Hopkins University, where he had been a member of the ROTC.

Commissioned as a second lieutenant, Mr. Libertini enlisted in the Army in 1944 and served in the infantry in the Philippine campaign and in the occupation of Japan.

Discharged with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1946, his decorations included the Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Distinguished Service Medal. He remained an active Army Reservist until 1976.

He was president and owner of several construction companies, including the Libertini Construction Co., which constructed the building that is the current penguin house at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. He also built Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

After selling his company in 1966, Mr. Libertini went to work for the Small Business Administration, where he served on the federal executive board.

In 1970, he coordinated disaster relief after a large earthquake in Los Angeles.

Two years later, after Tropical Storm Agnes swept up the East Coast, he was chief appraiser and chief loss verifier for the Office of Disaster Operations and assisted many businesses in obtaining federal money to rebuild.

Mr. Libertini, who retired in the late 1970s, worked as a coordinator for the Service Corps of Retired Executives and also taught business classes at the Community College of Baltimore County's Catonsville campus and at Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College.

The former resident of the Lawyers Hill community in Elkridge had also lived in Ocean City. He had been living at the Catonsville retirement community since 1996.

A funeral Mass was offered Aug. 20 at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel at Charlestown.

Surviving are his wife of 13 years, the former Elizabeth Coyle; three sons, James P. Libertini Jr. and Edward Libertini, both of Catonsville, and Andrew Libertini of Halethorpe; four daughters, Jill Bateman of Catonsville, Gina Hrybyk of Relay, Maria Newcomb of Laurel and Carolyn Weeks of Platt Cove, N.Y.; 24 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. Marriages to the former Vera Castagnetti and Emma Claypoole ended in divorce.

- Frederick N. Rasmussen

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