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Raymond J. Peroutka, businessman

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Raymond Joseph Peroutka Sr., who founded a janitorial supply business, died at Johns Hopkins Hospital on Nov. 17 of complications after heart surgery. A resident of Oak Crest Village in Parkville, he was 83.

Born in Baltimore and raised on South Glover Street, he was the son of Anthony Peroutka, a Federal Reserve Bank purchasing agent, and the former Josephine Hejl, a political leader in Baltimore's Bohemian community and an American Legion Auxiliary president.

He attended St. Wenceslaus School and was a 1948 graduate of Calvert Hall College High School, where he played varsity football.

In 1947, he was part of the Calvert Hall team that defeated Gilman in Roland Park. A Baltimore Sun sportswriter noted that Mr. Peroutka recovered fumbles that helped his team win.

He was an active member of East Baltimore's Czech community and met his future wife, Dolores "Coffee" Kaufman, at a Catholic school dance. He was also pictured in The Sun at neighborhood Bohemian community events. He became an Eagle Scout in 1945 in a ceremony at Patterson Park High School.

He and his wife married in 1952 and had a wedding reception at the old Stafford Hotel on Mount Vernon Place. He then enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in Port Lyautey in then-French Morocco. Family members said he defended a U.S. naval base where planes carried Korean War supplies. After returning to civilian life, he said he was "always a Marine."

Mr. Peroutka worked as a salesman and manager for the Baer Supply Co. He sold paper and other products to the Harford County Board of Education and Rosewood Center, among other customers in the Baltimore and Washington areas.

"We always prayed for snow because it meant more business for him," said his son Matthew Peroutka of Ellicott City. "He would stay home on a snow day and the phone would ring with orders for Ice Foe, a snow and ice remover. His customers would always buy a certain amount early, but if the big storms came, there was more business for Dad."

Family members said Mr. Peroutka was close to his sister, Geraldine "Gerry" Peroutka Kreml, who was a public relations official for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

"My father loved the circus parade and one year he helped get Oprah Winfrey on an elephant for the walk to the arena," said his daughter, JoAnn Peroutka of Reisterstown. "Oprah was then on Channel 13."

In 1989, he founded Maryland First Supply, a janitorial supply distributorship. He had an office in the Mount Vernon neighborhood and often worked out of the trunks of a series of Chevrolet Impalas he owned.

"He had an engaging personality and formed solid relationships with his customers," said his son, who is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "He had a way of getting past receptionists with compliments and charm."

Family members said he often bought loaves of Bohemian rye bread at H&S bakery — which was a paper supplies customer — and distributed them to customers and family members. They said he became known as the "Bread Fairy."

Mr. Peroutka lived in Middle River, and was a member of Our Lady Queen of Peace Roman Catholic Church parish before moving to Walker Avenue near Anneslie more than 40 years ago.

"He approached every day with good humor, optimism and an adventurous spirit," said another son, Raymond J. Peroutka Jr. of Towson. "He was devoted to his children and with his wife, instilled in them the importance of higher education, character, and to respect the inherent value of others."

His daughter recalled that her father raised his children to think for themselves.

"Even on a road trip to Ocean City, when we asked, 'How much longer?' he would make us figure it out given our speed and the distance from the road signs. Then he'd say, 'But what if the Kent Narrows Bridge is up?'" his daughter said.

He was an active member of the Mount Carmel Council of the Knights of Columbus and St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church, where he was a parish member for 47 years. A former member of the board of Calvert Hall Alumni Association, he also belonged to the Parkville American Legion Post 183.

Plans for a December memorial service are incomplete.

In addition to his wife of 62 years and his three children, survivors include five grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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