Thomas Palermo, a senior Johns Hopkins Hospital software engineer recalled as a master bike frame builder, died Saturday after he was struck by a vehicle while cycling in the 5700 block of Roland Ave. He was 41 and lived in the Baltimore County community of Anneslie.
Born in Mount Holly, N.J., he was the son of Carl and Patricia Palermo. He was a 1991 graduate of St. Joseph's Preparatory School in Philadelphia and moved to College Park to earn a history degree at the University of Maryland.
While in College Park, he worked at REI and at Proteus Bicycles.
"He was a gentle man and was a great listener," said Jill DiMauro, a past owner of Proteus Bicycles who lives in Ithaca, N.Y. "He was a deep thinker and was thoughtful. He had a good nature and he was incredibly loyal. He also adored his family, his parents, his wife and his children."
In 2010, Mr. Palermo was making custom bike frames at his workshop near Pulaski Highway in East Baltimore. He selected and cut the steel tubing, hand-cut and polished the lugs, and did his own brazing work.
"Tom was a magical character. He had a glint in his eye. He was such a sweetheart and had such a lovely family," said Maile Neel, a University of Maryland botanist and faculty member. "The bike he made for me was gorgeous. It was creative but also very practical. ... He wanted his bikes to be ridden. He used his time and his artistry to make me a bike that has carried me for at least 20,000 kilometers on three continents."
Dr. Neel recalled visiting his booth at a cycling trade show in Portland, Ore., before she commissioned her bike.
"Other builders had elaborate displays. Tom was there with one bike and one frame," she said. "After just a few minutes of talking, I found that he was a good person — and his work was impressive. He was clearly a person whose bike I would want to ride."
Mr. Palermo worked in information technology before becoming a senior software engineer at Hopkins Hospital as part of an information technology and services team. He joined Hopkins two years ago and worked at a Lancaster Street office in Harbor East.
"Tom was a vital part of a tight-knit team," said a Hopkins colleague, Richard Kowalewski of Baltimore. "He was instrumental to our work. He was detail-oriented, precise and thorough. He was liked by all."
"He was a consummate professional," said Saad Chaudhry of Baltimore, with whom he worked. "He was eager and ready to help whenever anyone needed assistance. I found him to be a pleasant colleague. Whatever the requirements of the work, he kept a positive outlook. The team morale was always high because of him."
Before his Hopkins office moved to Harbor East, Mr. Palermo worked in Mount Washington at another Hopkins site. He biked to work each day.
"With a quick wit, a quiet intelligence and a kind heart, Tom had a large group of friends and family who cared for him deeply," said a statement prepared by Alisa Rock, his sister-in-law. "He was the love of my sister's life, a wonderful father, a much-loved son and a friend to many."
Family members described Mr. Palermo as a "seasoned cyclist" who had ridden for 25 years. They said he had "a passion for mountain biking as well as logging countless miles on the road." The called him an advocate for bike access and bike safety.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Ware Avenue in Towson. His family will also receive friends at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday.
He is survived by his wife of seven years, Rachel Rock Palermo; a 6-year-old daughter, Sadie; a 4-year-old son, Sam; and his parents.