John H. Riehl III, real estate developer and former owner of Racquet Club of Roland Park, dies

John Henry Riehl III, a retired real estate developer who co-owned a Roland Park squash club, died of complications of prostate cancer at the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center. The Easton resident was 87.

Born in Richmond, Va., he was the son of John Henry Riehl Jr., a manufacturer's representative, and Mary Louise Gunther, a homemaker. The family moved to Cleveland, then relocated to the Roland Park area.

Mr. Riehl was a 1948 graduate of Loyola High School and competed in intramural sports. He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration at what is now Loyola University Maryland, where he played lacrosse.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps and was assigned to Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Quantico, Va., where he attended officer candidate school. He left active military serviced with the rank of captain, then joined the Marine Corps Reserve.

While in the Marine Reserves, he met Margaret Celeste Knott. They married in 1956. Mr. Riehl began his real estate career with his father-in-law, Henry J Knott.

Family members said the Knott Organization developed more than 10,000 apartments and numerous shopping centers. Mr. Riehl led the property management division for nearly 30 years.

He then founded Riehl Estate Management Company. The firm owns and operates Baltimore-area multi-family properties and remains in family hands.

Family members said that when he was in his 30s, Mr. Riehl was driving to his Roland Avenue home when he saw an elderly man being attacked by a mugger. He stopped his car, gave chase and subdued the attacker until police arrived.

“For years after, the man came to our house and thanked my father,” said his daughter, Lindsay Gallagher of Baltimore. “He even tracked us down when we moved to Joppa Road. It was a very moving experience for my father.”

In 1969, he and brother-in-law Robert E. Voelkel Jr. founded the Racquet Club of Roland Park on Long Lane, a private squash club that had once been the old Girls’ Latin School’s gymnasium.

“This unique club was operated on the honor system where members had keys and were expected to participate in the operation and maintenance of the courts,” said his son, John H. Riehl IV, of Reisterstown. “The Racquet Club was instrumental in the local growth of squash.”

Mr. Riehl sold the property in 1985.

“I bought it and its membership later became the basis of the Meadow Mill Athletic Club,” said Nancy Cushman of Towson. “The building remains a well-used facility for Roland Park County, Bryn Mawr and McDonogh schools.”

Mr. Riehl semi-retired in the mid-1990s and moved to Talbot County.

“It was truly his land of pleasant living,” said his son, John. “He transitioned from a waterfowl hunter to a waterfowl feeder. Always at his side were one or more of his beloved Chesapeake Bay retrievers. He enjoyed boating and crabbing on Maxmore Creek.”

John Allen, a friend for 70 years, said: “John was a Marine, and he maintained a Marine spirit throughout his life. He loved to read books about World War II.”

Mr. Riehl played squash, tennis and golf at Talbot Country Club and Greenspring Valley Hunt Club. He and his wife traveled to the Caribbean, Europe and Africa.

“I had the privilege of watching him hit a hole-in-one in St. Croix,” said John “Jack” Doetzer of Easton. “John was a left-handed golfer and hit the ball right to the green over a water hole. We played 18 holes a day and sometime six more in the winters we spent there.”

He and his wife belonged to a bridge and dinner club that met for more than 60 years.

“John was an intense individual. If he set out to accomplish something, he would be disappointed if he didn’t accomplish it,” said a friend, John Guidera, a Chester resident.

Mr. Riehl was a Colts and Ravens season ticket holder and was also an ardent supporter of his children’s and grandchildren’s athletic and academic endeavors.

His son described his father as a quiet and generous benefactor of numerous charitable causes. He was a past board member of Bon Secours Hospital and Harbor Federal Savings Bank.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday at the Shrine of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, 1701 Regent Road in Mount Washington.

In addition to his son and daughter, Mr. Riehl is survived by his wife of 61 years, a registered nurse who was a past president of Catholic Charities. Other survivors include two other sons, Michael Riehl of Ruxton and Tom Riehl of Reisterstown; a brother, C. Pickett Riehl of Rodgers Forge; 15 grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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