Stanley I. Panitz, a former real estate developer whose Bolton Square town house community earned him national recognition, died Monday from complications of Alzheimer's disease at Springwell Senior Living in Mount Washington.
The Roland Park resident was 88.
"Stan was a lovely, dear man who did so much for Baltimore and the Baltimore metro area. He loved both his family and his community," said Shale D. Stiller, a longtime friend who is a partner at DLA Piper and former president and trustee of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. "He was also what we call a real mensch."
The grandson of a builder, Mr. Panitz was born in Baltimore and raised near Druid Hill Park. He was a 1939 graduate of City College and earned a bachelor's degree in 1943 from the Johns Hopkins University.
During World War II, he served as a naval gunnery officer and participated in the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.
Mr. Panitz, who served aboard a Landing Tank Ship during the invasion, defied an officer's orders and at great risk returned to pick up wounded soldiers who were struggling in the sea.
"The officer said he was risking being court-martialed for his actions, and Stan said he 'wasn't leaving those boys behind,'" said his wife of 33 years, the former Linda Hambleton.
"There were people killed all around him and for a 21-year-old to be involved in that and survive is amazing," said Mr. Stiller. "I do know that Stan was very proud that he was a part of D-Day."
After being discharged with the rank of lieutenant junior grade in 1946, he returned to Baltimore and joined his brother, Leon Panitz, who was president of Panway Construction Co., as vice president.
In 1963, the two brothers dissolved their partnership and Mr. Panitz founded his own company, Panitz & Co. Inc.
A social liberal, Mr. Panitz supported open housing laws in the early 1960s, when, as president of Baltimore Neighborhoods Inc., he asked that builders adopt a voluntary policy of ending racial discrimination in the sale or rental of apartments and houses.
"I agree that unilateral action by any one builder may be impractical but following legislation or voluntary action applicable to the entire industry we can adjust to the problem and put it behind us for once and for all," he told The Baltimore Sun in a 1968 article.
"Stanley was passionate about civil rights. He believed right was right, and wrong was wrong, and housing was to be open to all people," said Mrs. Panitz.
During the 1960s, Mr. Panitz was the developer of Joppatowne and Rumsey Island, and at the end of the decade turned his attention to Bolton Hill.
Mr. Panitz developed Bolton Square, a community of 37 town houses that were designed by Hugh Newell Jacobsen and featured elements that echoed the surrounding older houses.
Mr. Jacobsen incorporated into their design dark brick and mortar, slate roofs, bay windows and traditional Baltimore white marble front steps.
The town house "clusters," as they were called, earned top national honors from the American Institute of Architects and House & Homes magazine.
"The judging panel notes that each house 'has its own private walled patio, which, in most instances faces into a central park open only to residents and their guests,'" reported The Baltimore Sun at the time.
"I first got to know Stan when I bought one of the Bolton Square houses. It took courage in those days to build diversified housing but he was a liberal from A to Z," said Mr. Stiller.
"I know he was enormously proud of Bolton Square and it was a quality project. He took pride in those houses — and by the way, he lived there, too," he said. "Stan, because he had a large family, combined two of the town houses."
Another project that earned Mr. Panitz acclaim was the 1974 conversion of the old Friends School, built in 1889 in the 1700 block of Park Ave., into 34 luxury apartments.
The site was abandoned in the mid-1930s when Friends School relocated to its present home on North Charles Street.
He joined in partnership with Tred Griffiths and J.H. Williams Jr. to form Panitz, Griffiths and Williams, and also developed the Bolton Hill Swim and Tennis Club.
Not only was Mr. Panitz active in the business world, he was also a visible player in the educational and cultural life of Baltimore.
From 1974 to 1977, he served as president of Park School, and with Redmond C.S. Finney, who was headmaster of Gilman School from 1968 to 1992, established the Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust, which provided scholarships for city students.
Mr. Panitz served as president of the scholarship fund from 1986 to 1990.
"When he was at Park, the school was going through tremendous changes, and his contributions were making its student body more comprehensive and diverse," said Mr. Stiller. "He also had the foresight to build up its endowment fund."
Mr. Panitz had served as a trustee of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Citizens Planning and Housing Authority, Home Builders Association of Maryland, Enterprise Development Co., and Westview Savings & Loan.
He was a member of the Hopkins Club and the Center Club.
"But his favorite club was the Petit Louis restaurant in Roland Park," said his wife.
A drummer, Mr. Panitz was a founder of the Chamber Jazz Society. He was also an avid student of history and a world traveler.
In 1985, he and his wife built a home on Martha's Vineyard, where they lived four months of the year until they sold it in 2006.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 9 at the Evergreen Museum and Library, 4545 N. Charles St.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Thomas Panitz of New York City; three daughters, Susan Fillion of Ruxton, Amy Panitz of Manchester, Vt., and Polly Panitz of McLean, Va.; a stepson, Jonathan Watts of Kamakura, Japan; two stepdaughters, Anne Watts of Cambridge and Caroline Watts of Philadelphia; 10 grandchildren; and five step-grandchildren.