Thomas J. "Arky" Vaughan, city constable

He was a Senior Olympian who played basketball for 75 years

  • Arky Vaughan
Arky Vaughan (Baltimore Sun )
December 27, 2013|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Thomas J. "Arky" Vaughan, a retired constable and a Senior Olympian who played basketball for 75 years, died Dec. 19 of a massive stroke at Stella Maris Hospice. He was 85.

"Arky was one of the best two-hand set shooters I've ever seen," said Al "Goldy" Goldstein, a retired Baltimore Sun sportswriter who played basketball three times a week with Mr. Vaughan and eight others in the gym of the Bykota Senior Center in Towson. "He was such a good-natured guy."

Born in Baltimore and raised on Cator Avenue, Thomas Joseph Vaughan was a basketball star at Towson Catholic High School and graduated in 1946 from City College. During the Korean War, he served with the Naval Reserve.

From 1952 to 1979, Mr. Vaughan was a constable for Baltimore; he served as a sheriff for the state of Maryland from 1979 until his retirement in 1988.

But it was Mr. Vaughan's lifelong love of sports that defined his life.

"I met him when I was 15 years old. Arky lived on Cator Avenue, and I grew up on Radnor Avenue in Govans. We played 70 years together. He was a dear friend," said Bucky Kimmett, who later played basketball at Towson University and is in the school's Hall of Fame.

"They built a playground on Willow Avenue in Blessed Sacrament Parish, and we all migrated there. We played basketball and stickball," recalled Mr. Kimmett. "He was a very heady player and had a set shot like the great Fred Scolari, a left-handed hook shot, and a two-hand set shot that he was known for."

Mr. Kimmett said that his friend was equally adept off the court when it came to getting dates when they were teenagers.

"Arky was a very handsome guy. If you went out with Arky and you met a couple of girls, he made his choice and you got what was left over," recalled Mr. Kimmett with a laugh.

Lenny Miller is another member of the Bykota basketball team.

"I've known him for 55 years, and what a terrific guy. He was the finest competitor that I ever played against in basketball, softball and baseball," said Mr. Miller.

"He was tough, smart and where speed is premium in basketball, he wasn't that fast. He made up for a lack of speed with his brain. He was always a step ahead in anticipation," said Mr. Miller.

In the 1950s, the two men were members of Behrman's baseball team, which was owned by Jack Behrman.

"Arky played first base, and in those years Behrman's was one of the top teams in Maryland in the senior leagues," he said. "He was a stalwart for the team, and I can remember many games where he was instrumental in the win. He was legendary where that was concerned."

Between marriages, the two men were roommates in Pikesville, said Mr. Miller.

"I guess we were as close as two guys could ever be," he said.

Mr. Vaughan earned the nickname "Arky" years ago.

"He's always been known as Arky. The late John Steadman, The Sun sportswriter who grew up with him in Govans, gave him that name and it stuck," said Mr. Miller, who explained that the original Arky was Joseph Floyd "Arky" Vaughan. The Arkansas native played shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Brooklyn Dodgers from 1932 to 1948, and later was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

"I think there are a lot of people who never knew Arky's real name," said Mr. Kimmett.

"He last played basketball at Bykota in May," said his wife of 34 years, the former Mimi Roeder.

Mr. Vaughan had also participated numerous times in the Senior Olympics.

Mr. Vaughan, who earlier lived in Riderwood, was a Ruxton resident. He also spent time at homes in Ocean City and Naples, Fla.

He was a member of the Center Club, Hopkins Club, Dunes Club in Ocean City, Easterwood Boys Club, the Elks and St. John's Ward.

Mr. Vaughan enjoyed traveling with his wife, who owns Roeder Travel in Timonium, and recently had visited Costa Rica.

He was a communicant of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Towson.

Plans for a memorial service to be held in January are incomplete.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Vaughan is survived by two sons, Ryan Vaughan of Federal Hill and Casey Vaughan of Santa Cruz, Calif.; three daughters, Christine Vaughan and Gina Pizza, both of Baltimore, and Kelly Vaughan of Riderwood; and four grandchildren. An earlier marriage ended in divorce.

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