Thomas Artes, founding member of GreenMount School, dies

McCormick employee also loved the outdoors

November 28, 2010|By Joe Burris, The Baltimore Sun | Baltimore Sun reporter

Thomas Howard Artes, a 32-year McCormick & Co. employee and one of the founding members of what is today the GreenMount School, died on Nov. 19, from complications of Crohn's disease.

He was 59.

Born and raised in the Hamilton neighborhood of Baltimore City, Mr. Artes was the oldest of five brothers. He graduated from Archbishop Curley High School in 1969, and went on to obtain two bachelor's degrees — in psychology and zoology — from the University of Maryland, College Park. He obtained a master's degree in business from the Johns Hopkins University in the late 1970s.

He was a childhood Boy Scout, and later became president of Explorer Post 172. He also shared his love of the outdoors and camping with his family during annual summer trips to national and state parks across the country.

"He very much liked the outdoors," said Ed Haser of Eldersburg, a friend who said he met Mr. Artes in grade school. The two went canoeing and backpacking along the Appalachian trail in their 20s, and in the late 1980s, they purchased a small sailboat, with which they regularly cruised the Inner Harbor. Mr. Haser said that Mr. Artes introduced him to his wife, Peggy, on Memorial Day weekend 30 years ago while the two were part of a large group that went backpacking along the C&O Canal.

Mr. Artes was a founding family member of what became the GreenMount School; he opened his home as one of the original locations of the private, independent school that began as a collaborative home-schooling program. He served as treasurer for the original board of directors, and helped to secure the school's permanent location in the former Wyman Park Recreation Center.

"Before we started the school, a number of families homeschooled together, and the Artes family hosted the homeschooling in their home four days a week," said Malissa Ruffner, founding parent and former director of the GreenMount School. "In the beginning, he played a background role; he was very supportive of his wife, who was the master teacher.

"Once we started the school we had a very administrative board and we all wore different hats. Once we started evolving, Tom became a board member, and he brought his business experience and background knowledge of the school in the beginning."

Mr. Artes began his career at McCormick, the Baltimore-area spice manufacturer, in 1978 as a supervisor in the vanilla extract department at the company's original facility in Baltimore. He held multiple positions with the company over the next 32 years, including in supply chain management and software systems integration.

"He was the epitome of the really true McCormick employee," said Pat Barron of Ellicott City, who said she had worked with Mr. Artes at McCormick since 1982. "He was a lunch-pail type of guy. His family meant everything to him."

Mr. Artes was an active participant in McCormick's annual Charity Day event, during which employees work an extra no-pay day and the company donates the equivalent of their salary to a charitable cause. Mr. Artes requested his donation be given to the Village Learning Place, a Charles Village community library and learning center. He and his wife, Mary Rebecca Thomson, were longtime supporters.

Mr. Artes was a bagpipe enthusiast and lover of Celtic music, enjoying several trips to Scotland. He was happiest, though, when he could hear his eldest daughter play the bagpipes in person. He was an avid golfer and boater and woodworker throughout his life. Two summers ago, he created a Windsor chair at a South Carolina folk camp.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Artes is survived by two sons, Ryan and Sean, both of Baltimore; two daughters, Sara and Patricia, also both of Baltimore; and four brothers, Lawrence Artes of Cockeysville, Raymond Artes of Lochearn, Donald Artes of White Marsh and Martin Artes of Baltimore.

A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held on Saturday at 2:00pm at Faith Presbyterian Church, 5400 Loch Raven Blvd., Baltimore 21239. Contributions can be made to the Village Learning Place, 2521 St. Paul St., Baltimore 21218.

joseph.burris@baltsun.com

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