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Walter Stefanowicz, homebuilder

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Walter M. Stefanowicz, a retired homebuilder who developed sections of Timonium, Catonsville and White Marsh, died of cardiac arrest while recuperating from knee surgery Nov. 17 at St. Anthony's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla. The former Cockeysville and Federal Hill resident was 74.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Clinton Street, he was born into a family of homebuilders. His father, Walter S. Stefanowicz, and his mother, Alice Michalski, established a residential construction business. The family also owned and operated a Southeast Baltimore meat market and had a concrete block plant on North Point Road. Their early homebuilding projects were in Dundalk and the Berkfield section of Rosedale.

"Walter and his brothers literally grew up in the family business," said his wife, the former Janice Miller Creasy. "Their father brought them to his construction sites as soon as they could walk. Soon they were carrying bricks and blocks. They would pack a lunch and do what they were able to do."

Mr. Stefanowicz was a 1956 Calvert Hall College High School graduate and attended the University of Maryland, College Park, where he was a member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity.

He joined his father in the construction business and went on to run the financial side of the organization. He initially worked alongside his mother, who was known for her business acumen.

"She was a brilliant, self-educated woman, and she showed him the financial end of the business. It served him well," his wife said. "He then became well known for his innovative designs and his ability to work with his clients on construction loans and permits. He had an incredible work ethic. One Christmas I had to drag him from the office to come home."

Mr. Stefanowicz built homes throughout the region. His projects included Springlake in Timonium, where he and his family lived, as well as Red Fox Farm in White Marsh, townhouses in Columbia and homes in Carroll County. He also built custom homes throughout Dulaney Valley. His office was in Cockeysville behind the area's antique shops.

"The Stefanowicz family built average-quality homes with attractive designs for the day," said James Genthner, a Timonium resident who purchased one of his homes. "Split-levels were very popular in Lutherville-Timonium, and they are everywhere in our neighborhood. He also built ranchers, Dutch Colonials, and split-foyers."

He recalled how the Stefanowicz family transformed a section of Baltimore County.

"Houses in Coachford sold in the low 30's when new in the mid-1960s. The last few homes he built out here were on the north side of Timonium Road near Pot Spring. You can spot a Stefanowicz home easily. There's something about them," Mr. Genthner said.

He and family members owned many commercial buildings along York Road in Cockeysville, including a building that housed Bentley's Antiques, operated by the late Bill Bentley and, later, his wife, former U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley.

"The Stefanowicz sons were an offshoot of their parents who were real entrepreneurs and believed in real estate investments. They had a good sense of business," Mrs. Bentley said. "The sons tried to emulate all the things their parents did. Walter was a nice guy who had a pleasant manner. My husband, Bill, always enjoyed working with him."

"Walter was well known in the area because he built so many homes here," said John Koutrakos, the owner of the Ashland Cafe, who purchased the building from him many years ago.

Mr. Stefanowicz moved to Florida in the 1980s, where his father had retired. He continued the family tradition of buying real estate and building homes in the St. Petersburg area. He returned to Baltimore in 1991 but maintained a residence in Florida.

After Mr. Stefanowicz returned to Baltimore, he became active in the rehabilitation of Federal Hill homes. He worked along South Charles Street and Fort Avenue.

"He had a tireless work ethic. His passions were work, building homes and his family," said his son, Walter J. Stefanowicz of Freeland, who is a builder with Ryan Homes.

A Mass will be offered at noon Friday at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, 101 Church Lane in Cockeysville.

In addition to his wife of 32 years and son, survivors include another son, Michael Stefanowicz of Key West, Fla.; two daughters, Berni Stevens of Malvern, Pa., and Kathleen Hellington of Hyattsville; two brothers, Gene Barabasz of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Melvin Stefanowicz of Timonium; and five grandchildren. His 1958 marriage to the former Marion Fulker ended in divorce. His mother died in 1977; his father died in 1984.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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