John Elsen III, engineer and roofer, dies

He also volunteered at Sandtown Habitat for Humanity

  • John Elsen
John Elsen
November 26, 2010|By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun | Baltimore Sun reporter

John Elsen III, a mechanical engineer who owned a roofing business, died Nov. 15 of injuries from a fall off a roof in North Baltimore. He was 62 and lived in Overlea.

Born in Chicago and raised in Evanston, Ill., he earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Minnesota State University.

Mr. Elsen moved to Baltimore more than 20 years ago and founded C. Joy Roofers, a business named for his daughter. He had many customers in North Baltimore.

"He became a fixture in this neighborhood," said Andrew J. O'Brien, who lives in the Tuscany- Canterbury neighborhood. "He was more than a roofer. He was a friendly guy. People invited him for a cup of coffee or lunch. He did work beyond the call of duty, and you could count on him guaranteeing his work. His prices were reasonable."

He was a Saturday volunteer at the Sandtown Habitat for Humanity. He adopted a Calhoun Street house and renovated it.

"John was a gracious, generous man with his time, money, and his willingness to listen," said his son, Stephen Elsen of Asheville, N.C. "He helped many people, family and friends, all over the country. He was a man of integrity and honor. People trusted him. He never stopped helping people even when some people he helped stole from him."

His son said he was working on a slate-roofing repair job when he noticed an additional spot on the roof that needed repair. A helper said that the homeowner would never know that they had not addressed the bad spot. "My father said, 'But I would know.'" He replaced the additional slate and never told the homeowner.

Mr. Elsen enjoyed boating and boat building.

Services were held Nov. 23 at Fork Christian Church, where he attended services.

In addition to his son, survivors include a daughter, Christina Joy Elsen of Weaverville, N.C.; his parents, John and Virginia Elsen of Three Lakes, Wis.; four brothers, Andy Elsen of Missoula, Mont., Paul Elsen of Winnebago, Ill., Ed Elsen of San Rafael, Calif., and David Elsen of St. Augustine, Fla.; five sisters, Sylvia Lovett of Minnetonka, Minn., Patsy Hubbard of Northfield, Ill., Kim Klamm of Evanston, Ill., Veegee Elsen of Spooner, Wis., and Carol Elsen of White Water, Wis.; and four grandchildren.

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