James Charles Turch, 45, a chef who was found bludgeoned to death in Patterson Park last week, was a generous, cheerful person who lighted up any room he entered, friends and relatives recalled.
"He was always the life of the party. You could never be down in his company. . . . And he would give you the last dime he had," said Barbara Sauer of her brother, who was well-known in East Baltimore.
A funeral mass for Turch was being offered today at St. Wenceslaus Roman Catholic Church, Ashland and Collington avenues.
Turch was a chef at the Homestyle Family Buffet in Glen Burnie.
"Of the 71 people employed, no one ever had any problem with Jim,"said Jeff Brookshire, the restaurant's manager. "He had a great sense of humor and and was a great guy. Even in the crunch times of the day, he kept people laughing."
Brookshire said Turch often conversed with dinner guests as they made their way through the food line. "He was a very popular man here," the manager said.
Two East Baltimore teen-agers have been charged in connection with Turch's death, but police say the investigation is not over yet.
Terry Ostrowski, 17, of the 1600 block of E. Baltimore St., turned himself in at 12:30 p.m. yesterday at the Central District police station. He was charged with murder with a deadly weapon and robbery with a deadly weapon, as was Anthony Fields, 15, of the 300 block of S. Madeira St., police said.
Police said that Fields is being held without bond at the Baltimore City Jail. Ostrowski, who is being held without bail at the Southeastern District, is scheduled today for a bail review hearing at the Eastside District Court.
Turch, who lived in the 2300 of E. Fayette St., was bludgeoned to death with a wooden spike used to anchor a tree about 2 a.m. Thursday in Patterson Park off the 2300 block of Eastern Ave., police said. His body was discovered several hours later.
Police said the victim was robbed of $10. Other people possibly involved with the case were still to be questioned, police said.
"The real investigation is just beginning to start. We have witnesses," said homicide Detective Edward Brown, who declined further comment.
Turch grew up in the Bohemian section of East Baltimore north ofHighlandtown. He attended Calvert Hall College, but he left the school to pursue a religious vocation. He studied with both the Redemptorist Fathers and the Christian Brothers, but he ultimately decided against becoming a cleric.
Turch then worked in local restaurants, including Gino's and Wendy's, before taking jobs at Penn Pontiac Inc. and Aero Motors Inc. Friends recalled that he enjoyed driving along Eastern Avenue in a convertible and calling out the names of people walking along the street. One of his trademarks was a ring that featured his initials in diamonds.
Associates referred to Turch as a "character" with a "golden heart."
At one time, Turch weighed more than 400 pounds. But under a doctor's care, he had lost half that weight, family members said. His marriage ended in divorce several years ago. He had no children.