J. Richard "Dick" Awalt, a Howard Country home builder and real estate developer, died of complications from Parkinson's disease May 3 at his Johns Island, Fla., home.
He was 88 and also resided in Bozman in Talbot County.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Hunting Ridge, he was the son of George S. Awalt, also a home builder, and E. Grace Freeland.
He attended St. William of York School and was a 1945 graduate of City College, where he played football and lacrosse. He served in the Army at the end of World War II and was assigned to the Philippines.
After his military service ended, Mr. Awalt earned a bachelor's degree at what is now Loyola University Maryland and studied at the University of Maryland School of Law. The main playing field, where Loyola's men's and women's lacrosse and soccer games are held at the Ridley Athletic Complex, is named Awalt Field in his honor.
He followed his father in the home construction business. After the death of his father, he joined his brother, Robert W. Awalt, and bought land and built homes in the West Baltimore suburbs of Ten Hills and Hunting Ridge.
Beginning in 1955, the Awalt firm developed parts of Dunloggin in Howard County. They also built homes in Howard County's Glenmont and The Oaks in Ellicott City.
Mr. Awalt bought a tract of land owned by his mother off Frederick Road near the Rock Glen School in 1964. Family members said the property initially lacked water and sewage, but when the city constructed the school, it extended utility lines and roads to access the property. It was his first apartment venture.
Mr. Awalt established Awalt Builders with his brother, who died in 2014, and a partner, Richard E. Dietrich. He also co-owned the Century Corp., which managed and maintained his real estate holdings. His firm remains in business on Baltimore National Pike.
The Awalt brothers went on to construct other apartments: White Oaks on Leeds Avenue, Caton House Apartments in Catonsville and Burnham Woods in White Marsh.
In Howard County, they developed the Chatham Garden Apartments and a residential community, also called Chatham, of nearly 150 homes. He also constructed an early Howard County office building at U.S. 40 and St. John's Lane in 1964.
"Dick was very perceptive about the future of Howard County," said Mr. Dietrich, who lives in Ellicott City. "People would say he was a tough businessman but was very fair. He was cautious but consistent in his decisions. His employees remained with him for years."
Mr. Awalt also built the Village Green shopping center in the 9300 block of Baltimore National Pike, where he co-owned a business, Village Green Spirits Shop, with business partner Joseph Lucido.
"Richard said to me one day, 'Pack a bag. We are going to Lexington, Ky., to buy horses,'" said Mr. Lucido, a lifelong friend.
"I also remember the day his [horse] You're Smart ran. He told me to bet $20 across the board," Mr. Lucido recalled. "I collected more than $700 for him that day. You're Smart came on the outside — flying. He was a good turf horse."
Mr. Awalt had been a board member of the old Baltimore Federal Savings and Loan Association.
"He brought his caring and playful spirit wherever he went," said son-in-law Michael Molloy of Baltimore. "He was well liked and respected by his employees. He had a tremendous sense of humor and could laugh at himself or laugh at others."
He was a member of the Baltimore Country Club and Johns Island Club. He lived for many years on Glen Allen Drive, and had also lived in Howard and Baltimore counties.
He enjoyed spending time near the water and in 1974 built a home on Harris Creek in the Bozman area. There he had a garden, sailed, hunted, fished and planted trees. He spent winters at Johns Island.
A memorial Mass will be held at noon Tuesday at the Loyola University Maryland Chapel, 4501 N. Charles St.
Survivors include his wife of 18 years, Patrice Awalt of Johns Island; a son, Paul Awalt of San Diego; three daughters, Dr. Kathleen Awalt of Baltimore, Elizabeth Awalt of Concord, Mass., and Sally McCoy of Howard County; and 11 grandchildren. His marriage to Hazel Clary Awalt ended in divorce.