Catonsville developer honored for support of community and business growth

Tom Booth the businessman would have appreciated the flurry of purchases by customers as the Sunday Catonsville Farmers Market opened for business May 5.

Tom Booth the Catonsville resident would have liked the activity on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the heart of his community.

Tom Booth the developer would have enjoyed the sight of few empty spaces in his parking lot in the 700 block of Frederick Road.

Tom Booth, though, may not have wanted to see the crowd gathered to see the unveiling of a new sign marking the entrance to that lot as "Tom Booth Way."

But those in the crowd would have disagreed.

Booth died last September at age 70.

He was hailed for supporting a 1997 plan to streetscape Frederick Road, the Catonsville 2000 Committee to revitalize the Frederick Road corridor and the Catonsville Chamber of Commerce, among other activities to aid the local economy.

"Tom and (his wife) Joanne were good people. The community will probably never know how much they have given of their resources and energy because they were not public people. They were doing it for the good of the community" said former 1st District Councilman Sam Moxley, after the unveiling.

The sign, Moxley said during the series of short speeches before the unveiling, was appropriate on more than one level.

"It was 'Tom Booth's way,'" said Moxley, who worked with Booth on numerous occasions during his four terms as councilman for Catonsville and Arbutus. "He had a vision and he knew what he had to do to get things done."

Booth's son, Tom Booth Jr., spoke during the short ceremony Sunday afternoon before the unveiling of the sign, which was on a temporary post so those taking the cover off could reach it.

Other speakers included Don Mohler, chief of staff for Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, state Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, who spoke on behalf of 1st District Councilman Tom Quirk and for the District 12 team that includes Dels. James Malone and Steven DeBoy, and Catonsville businessman Joe Loverde.

Kamenetz, Malone and Quirk were at the funeral service of Reisterstown volunteer firefighter Gene Kirchner and were unable to attend the ceremony in Catonsville.

"This is a great way to memorialize the way dad had of giving back to Catonsville," Booth said to the group, which also included his mother, Joanne, his brother, Michael, and other members of his family.

"It's a good way to memorialize his legacy," Tom Booth Jr. said after the ceremony. "He helped make Catonsville what it is today."

Booth, who now runs his father's company, credited Don Mohler and his brother Jim, a prominent Catonsville real estate professional, along with Moxley, Quirk and Loverde for their efforts in having a sign erected that will keep the memory of his father alive.

Loverde, a prominent real estate figure and philanthropist in the community, was the driving force for a sign to honor Booth.

"It was to honor a man of great vision, who loved and cared about Catonsville very much," Loverde said during the ceremony.

Jim Himel, a member of the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce's Economic Development Committee, was among those who gathered for the street sign unveiling.

There are very few places to park near or on Catonsville's main street that are not designated for a specific business or business area, said the Catonsville businessman.

Himel, who also lives in Catonsville, said Booth's lot, while marked as a private lot to discourage vehicles being abandoned there, provides spaces for shoppers who may have more than one destination in mind, or no specific destination at all.

"The importance of this parking lot to the vitality of the village can't be underestimated," he said. "I hope the Booth family and his development company continue to make this parking lot for public parking."

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