By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun
7:04 PM EDT, October 8, 2012
"Patches" Jarrett Lickle, a popular children's television personality who later performed at Cockeysville-area restaurants, died of cancer late Friday at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. The Sparks resident was 87.
Mr. Lickle played a guitar-playing tenor who was known for singing "Big Rock Candy Mountain" and "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" on Baltimore television shows of the 1950s and early 1960s.
"His show was casual and in ways anticipated 'Sesame Street,'" said Jack Edwards, a Reisterstown resident who was a WBAL-TV director in 1958 and is a disc jockey at WTTR-AM in Westminster. "His set looked like the back of a farmhouse or a porch."
Born Jarrett Spottswood Lickle in Towson, he grew up on Allegheny Avenue. In a 2008 Baltimore Sun interview, he said he took over his father's ukulele as a boy.
"My mother and father said I was humming tunes before I could speak," he said, and he was singing country songs at age 10 for a WCBM radio program. "I wouldn't miss a Gene Autry movie," he said.
He graduated from Towson High School in 1943 and also studied at the Peabody Preparatory School. He enlisted in the Army and three days after his 18th birthday was at Fort Meade.
Trained in radio work, he was assigned to the Pacific and served on Hawaii and Wake Island. He also sang in an Army Air Forces band.
After his military service, he returned to Baltimore and sang on live radio shows broadcast at WFBR-AM. He also made singing appearances on WMAR-TV's "Sports Parade," an early daytime show that aired from 1949 to 1952. He was then known as Spotty Lickle.
In 1953, he began commuting to Philadelphia's WCAU-TV for a children's television show where he created the character of Patches. Dressed in buckskins and moccasins and bearded, he wore patched clothing. Soon children began sending him patches that appeared on his costumes.
In 1956, Mr. Lickle landed a children's show at WBAL-TV. Among other duties, he hosted a weekend program of Laurel and Hardy comedy shorts.
He had collies, Valley and Sage, and also a crow named Hector and a white mouse named Prairie.
He later moved to WJZ-TV, where he appeared with a singing partner, Elizabeth "Liz" Murray, who became his wife.
"Folk music was popular then, and he sang it with a gentleness when children's programs were filled with clowns and superheroes," said Gary Helton, manager of WHFC in Bel Air. "Patches was a flesh-and-blood human being who exuded a soft side. He presented a different atmosphere."
Mr. Lickle left local television in 1962 and soon opened a coffeehouse in Timonium called the 15 Below in the basement of the old Timonium Inn.
"The kids thought of Liz and me as their surrogate parents," he said in 2008.
Mr. Lickle had as guest artists some performers who later achieved recognition: John Denver, Emmylou Harris and Don McLean.
Mr. Lickle and his wife returned to television on occasion. He had shows called "Coffee House USA" and "Limelight." In the 1980s, he was the midnight-to-5 a.m. WBAL radio host. Family members said he was a night person and the time slot suited him well.
As Patches and Liz, the couple appeared at the New York Inn in Cockeysville, where they sang folk songs and ballads.
"And to this day, I still sing around the house," he said in 2008.
Services will be held at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 20 at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, 200 E. Padonia Road, Cockeysville.
In addition to his wife of 49 years, survivors include his four daughters, Andrea Allen of Towson, Nancy Bernoni of Hunt Valley, Kathryn Rumsey of Newfield, N.Y., and Laura Stark of New Windsor, N.Y.; a brother, William Francis Lickle of Baltimore; a sister, Margaret Lickle Carter of Timonium; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. A previous marriage to Cynthia Linda Slater ended in divorce.
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