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News Obituaries

Daniel 'Rocky' Hyde, tavern owner

Daniel "Rocky" Hyde, a former tavern owner and a retired Maryland State Lottery employee, died of heart failure Wednesday at Franklin Square Medical Center. The Rosedale resident was 65.

Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Leo Hyde, a postal worker, and Vera Sacco Hyde, a homemaker. The family lived in Loch Raven Village. He attended Immaculate Heart of Mary School and was a 1966 graduate of Calvert Hall College High School, where he was a standout football offensive and defensive lineman. He represented his school at the 1966 McCormick Unsung Hero Award banquet.

"Rocky was to Calvert Hall what Art Donovan was to Baltimore," said Frank Bramble, the president of Calvert Hall's board of trustees and a Bank of America director who lives in Towson. "He was a spectacular athlete. He was gruff outside, but he would do anything for you."

He played varsity football for three years and was named to the All Maryland team by the Maryland Scholastic Association. Newspaper articles noted that he stood 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighed 240 pounds.

In September 1963, he was part of the Calvert Hall team that defeated Archbishop Curley by a score of 44-0 at a standing-room-only game attended by 4,000 people when his school dedicated its new football field. He also competed with his team at Memorial Stadium in annual games against Loyola High School.

He attended the former Baltimore Junior College and was named to All-American teams in 1968 and 1969. He played semipro football for the Omicron Eagles, which played home games at Utz Twardowicz Field in Patterson Park. He also played lacrosse.

"People felt comfortable with him," said his brother, Brian Hyde of Forest Hill. "It was kind of ironic. He was such a big guy, but he wasn't intimidating. You could talk to him easily."

In the early 1970s, he became a city government worker and was assigned to the Department of Public Works. He worked for Marco "Buddy" Palughi during the administration of Mayor William Donald Schaefer.

In the 1970s, he owned and operated a bar, Rocky's Tavern, at Belair Road and Glenmore Avenue with his business partners, Denny Meagher and Dan Niccolucci.

"We grew up together from the time I was 12. We met at the North Harford Rec Center," said Mr. Niccolucci, a Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. vice president who lives in Richmond, Va. "He was a Baltimore neighborhood icon. The bar became so famous, even Johnny Unitas visited us at the bar and would stay the evening."

A neighborhood sports bar, the business sponsored numerous soccer and softball teams. Mr. Hyde also served as the tavern's bouncer.

"He worked and tended the bar. He was a well-known figure all along Belair Road and throughout Overlea, Hamilton and Parkville," said another brother, Michael Hyde of Bel Air.

Mr. Hyde appeared dressed as Santa Claus for Toys for Tots campaigns. He and his friends hired a limousine and visited other Northeast Baltimore bars and collected donations.

"He gained folklore status for being the anchor of tug-of-war competitions with other bars and restaurants, such as the Casa Giannerini, Harford House and Jerry's Belvedere Tavern in the late 1970s," said a friend, John Mangione Sr. of Towson, who is a general contractor. "These were charity events where the watering holes brought their patrons to the Towson University football field. It was part of Towsontowne Festival. ... Rocky would really get into it. He was the team's big boy."

In the mid-1980s, he and his partners sold the bar. Mr. Hyde then joined the Maryland Lottery Commission and became a sales representative and service agent. He worked a route and delivered lottery supplies. He was also a wine salesman.

"He was a big Colts-Ravens-Orioles fan," said his brother, Michael Hyde. "He was a gentle giant, a tough guy who never forgot his family or friends. He was a great brother. When he was 17 and I was 10, he would do whatever I asked. We were each other's best men in our weddings."

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Schimunek Funeral Home, 9705 Belair Road.

In addition to his brothers, survivors include his wife of 30 years, the former Lois Leiser, a retired customer service worker; two stepsons, Gary Dye of Hanover, Pa., and Eric Dye of Perry Hall; a sister, Sherry Hyde of Birmingham, Ala.; and five grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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