Thomas K. Pettit, a retired Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. engineer who later co-owned a natural-foods store, died Tuesday of complications after gall bladder surgery at Northwest Hospital.
The one-time Timonium and Mays Chapel resident was 86.
The son of a Western Maryland Railway purchasing agent and a homemaker, he was born in Baltimore and raised in Ashburton and later Ten Hills.
He was a 1944 graduate of Polytechnic Institute, where he was a star quarterback and lacrosse player.
He enlisted in the Navy during the waning days of World War II and completed flight training as the war ended.
Mr. Pettit earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1948 from Duke University. During the 1950s, he worked as an oil field engineer for Schlumberger Oil Service Co.
He later worked for the South Wire Co. in Macon, Ga., before returning to Baltimore in the early 1960s to take a job with Combustion Engineering Co.
He went to work for BGE in 1962 as a senior engineer and was involved with numerous utility projects on the Baltimore waterfront, including the development of Harborplace.
After retiring from BGE in 1986, he taught the Dale Carnegie public speaking program at the Community College of Baltimore County during the 1970s.
From 1978 until selling the business in 1982, Mr. Pettit partnered with his wife and daughter in Nature's Gateway, a natural-foods store in the Fairgrounds Shopping Center in Timonium.
Mr. Pettit's hobby was owning and racing thoroughbred horses, and he attributed his lifelong infatuation with horses and the track to attending the famous War Admiral-Seabiscuit match race in 1938 at Pimlico Race Course, family members said.
Mr. Pettit had lived at the Fairhaven retirement community in Sykesville since 1994. He was a former communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer.
Mr. Pettit was married for 51 years to the former Phyllis King, who died in 2001.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Fairhaven, 7200 Third Ave., Sykesville.
Surviving are a son, James Pettit of Ellicott City; three daughters, Catherine Feeley of Eastport, Mary Beth Werner of Fredericksburg, Va., and Nancy Davis of Shrewsbury, Pa.; a brother, Harry Pettit of Hot Springs, Ark.; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.