Frank Armsworthy, Saks Fifth Avenue executive born in Pigtown

Frank Joseph Armsworthy, a Baltimore-born former vice chairman of the Saks Fifth Avenue department store board who also served as a Noxzema executive, died Dec. 1 of complications from dementia at his home in South Natick, Mass. The former Cockeysville resident was 90.

Born at his family’s West Hamburg Street home in Southwest Baltimore, he was the son of Frank Armsworthy, a cab driver and Carroll Park custodian, and Eva Cooney. He attended St. Jerome School and excelled in sports as a boy. He competed in the old Maryland Club League and often played against teams from Locust Point, Fort Howard, Lyndhurst and Carlin’s Park,

“He was a city boy and he played in Carroll Park,” said his sister, Beverly Kohlhepp of Frederick. “He was on a football team, the Carrolls, that had a large local following. I remember getting on a streetcar with his fans. and the passengers would be singing, ‘Pigtown will shine tonight.’ ”

He attended Southern High School, where he played basketball, baseball and football. In 1947 Baltimore sports reporters selected Mr. Armsworthy to the All Maryland Scholastic Association basketball team.

He left school to enlist in the Navy and played basketball for the Naval Training Center at Bainbridge in Cecil County.

After his service ended Mr. Armsworthy returned to Southern and received his high school diploma. He then attended the University of Maryland, where he played baseball, football and basketball. He was sought out by Maryland football coach Jim Tatum, who saw him play as a high school senior.

He played in the inaugural football game in Byrd Stadium on Sept. 30, 1950, where Maryland beat Navy, 35-21.

Mr. Armsworthy earned a bachelor’s degree from Maryland in 1951 and is listed among the school’s Alumni of Note.

He then joined the Central Intelligence Agency and worked as an intelligence officer in the Philippines.

Mr. Armsworthy returned to Baltimore in 1956 and became director of personnel and operations at the old Sears, Robuck & Co.’s North Avenue store. He also supervised similar departments in Philadelphia and New England. He spent a year traveling with baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams, who had a line of fishing and outdoor equipment that Sears sold.

In 1964, Mr. Armsworthy joined the Noxzema Co. as its personnel director. He held the same post at the Horn & Hardart baking and cafeteria firm in Philadelphia and New York. In the 1970s, he joined Filene’s in Boston and supervised the openings of suburban branches of the department store. He later became president of Goldsmiths department stores in Memphis, Tenn.

He retired as vice chairman of the Saks Fifth Avenue board in New York City.

In 1984, The New York Times reported that Mr. Armsworthy appeared before the Landmarks Preservation Commission to seek landmark status for his firm’s Fifth Avenue flagship store.

He was a member and past president of the Wellesley Country Club. He played golf regularly and gin rummy. He also read widely and enjoyed cooking, traveling and gardening, family members said.

“My brother kept up his ties to Baltimore by betting me $2 against the Orioles and the Revens. He backed the Red Sox and the Patriots,” said Ms. Kohlhepp.

“My father enjoyed simply sitting on the back porch or in front of a roaring fire enjoying a good Scotch,” said Scott Armsworthy of Lighthouse Point, Fla. “He treated everyone he met with dignity and respect, regardless of their station in life. He had a strength of character which promoted a deep sense of honesty, integrity and fairness.”

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday at the George F. Doherty Funeral Home in Wellesley, Mass.

In addition to his sister and son, survivors include his wife of 54 years, Joan Colamaria Armsworthy; two other sons, Richard Armsworthy of San Diego and Frank Armsworthy of White Cloud Minn.; and a granddaughter.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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