David Lee Bollinger, carpenter and advertising executive, dies

Friends remembered David Bollinger as a "renaissance man" talented in carpentry, music, writing and design.

David Lee Bollinger, an advertising executive and carpenter known as a "Renaissance man" for his range of artistic and musical talents, died of lung cancer Dec. 16 at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. He was 62.

"He was a true artist in every sense," said M. Robert Coyne, a longtime friend and advertising colleague. "He was gifted with his music and his hands and his writing."

Born in Baltimore and raised on Lake Avenue, Mr. Bollinger was the son of Michael J. Bollinger Sr., a roofing contractor, and Cecilia Curley Bollinger, a homemaker. He was one of 15 siblings.

He attended the Cathedral School and then Loyola Blakefield, graduating in 1972. He spent a year studying at Towson University before leaving to work for his father's company, Michael J. Bollinger Roofing Co., then in Remington.

His love and talent for music emerged at a young age, as he sang in the Men and Boys Choir at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, performing at the first wedding of Luci Baines Johnson, daughter of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

In the 1970s, he was the lead singer and keyboardist for a rock band called Tumbleweed, performing at the Steak & Ale restaurant in Timonium and the Four Corners Inn in Jacksonville. The band often played songs Mr. Bollinger had written.

He moved to Ocean City in the late 1970s to pursue a solo music career, and for years performed nightly at the Carousel Hotel's piano bar. During his time there, he got into advertising, writing jingles for local businesses that played on radio stations around the Mid-Atlantic.

He returned to Baltimore in the mid-1980s and launched his own advertising business, writing copy, designing graphics and crafting jingles for clients that included Schaefer & Strohminger car dealerships and Wockenfuss Candies.

Even as he pursued advertising, he maintained interests in music and carpentry. He played at the piano bar at Carolyn's Cafe in Towson and at what is now the Radisson Hotel in downtown Baltimore.

"It was odd how he could look at something and figure a way to fix it or figure a way to tout it," said William F. Zorzi, a former Baltimore Sun editor and a friend of Mr. Bollinger's. "He was a very clever guy with words and had an amazing sense of melody."

While Mr. Bollinger helped friend Mark J. Adams renovate his Upper Fells Point home in 1994, the two got an idea to launch a community newspaper covering both eastern and southern neighborhoods in Baltimore, Mr. Adams said. They published The Harbor Crescent twice a month for a year and a half, with Mr. Bollinger designing the advertising and graphics and writing "The House Guy" column about home repairs.

Mr. Adams remembered Mr. Bollinger once making a poignant observation after sanding a weathered, 140-year-old piece of wood in his home, bringing out its resin and renewing its shine.

"He said, 'Isn't that beautiful? ... You bring it back to life,'" Mr. Adams recalled. "'It never dies.'"

"He was like a Renaissance man in the Dark Ages," Mr. Adams said.

In the 1990s, Mr. Bollinger worked as a sound engineer and producer for PageOne, a nationally syndicated radio show in which host Stu Feiler interviewed authors. In the mid-1990s, he joined marketing firm ArtComp & Design in Timonium, where he met Mr. Coyne. The two left the company in 2000 when Mr. Coyne started his own firm in Lancaster, Pa., bringing Mr. Bollinger with him.

In the mid-2000s, Mr. Bollinger returned to carpentry full time, working for Accurate Builders in Baltimore County, then on his own. Most recently he worked with Edward Crutchfield Painting Co., where he did renovation and restoration work.

He continued playing music in recent years, starting a trio called "3 a band" that played at the Hamilton Tavern in Northeast Baltimore and the Recher Theatre in Towson.

He inspired his sons to love music as well, said Nicholas D. Bollinger of Mount Washington, his eldest son. Mr. Bollinger's youngest son, Maxwell M. Bollinger, plays in the Charlottesville, Va.-based band the Anatomy of Frank. Friends said Mr Bollinger was overjoyed when his middle son, Samuel J. Bollinger of Rodgers Forge, recently started pursuing a master's degree in education.

In his spare time, Mr. Bollinger enjoyed woodworking, painting and photography.

"There was never anything he did that wasn't worth doing," Nicholas Bollinger said. "It led him to some hard times, but at the same time he was always very true to what he believed to be important in life and what his passions were."

A memorial Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Chapel of Our Lady of Montserrat, Loyola Blakefield, 500 Chestnut Ave., Towson.

In addition to his sons, he is survived by five brothers, J. Francis "Frank" Bollinger of Williamsburg, Va., retired Baltimore County Circuit Judge Thomas J. Bollinger of Nottingham, Timothy T. Bollinger of Phoenix in Baltimore County, John C. Bollinger of Little Silver, N.J., and Harry F. "Hank" Bollinger of Homeland; and six sisters, Patricia B. France of Towson, Nancy J. Daily of Mount Washington, M. Joan Bollinger of Perry Hall, Cyrilla B. Rohrer of Annapolis, Kathleen B. Pursifull of Reston, Va., and Mary B. King of Baltimore.

He was preceded in death by three brothers: Michael J. Bollinger Jr. in 1982, Robert C. Bollinger in 1990 and Sylvester P. "Butch" Bollinger in 2012.

Marriages to Elizabeth Bowman Russo and Karen Ann Jankowski ended in divorce.

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