Thomas J. Guidera Jr., a second-generation real estate developer who was a champion of affordable housing, died at Mercy Medical Center Thursday of cancer. He was 71.
During the late 1960s, Mr. Guidera became involved with charitable and civic causes focused on affordable housing.
"One of his great passions was that he believed that everyone, regardless of their incomes, ought to have the opportunity to live in a decent home," said Joanne Copes, who served with Mr. Guidera on the board of the Neighborhood Housing Association, which he co-founded.
His volunteer work including membership on the Baltimore Civil Rights Commission, which was instrumental in ending a practice known as "steering" in the real estate industry, in which prospective black homebuyers were directed away from homes for sale in white neighborhoods.
The Neighborhood Housing Association helped low-income families obtain below-market rate loans to repair and buy homes. He also helped launch the "Dollar Homes Program," in which low-income families could purchase and rehabilitate dilapidated houses.
In the early 1980s he served on the board of Mutual Housing, a nonprofit agency that launched a national demonstration project in Baltimore to build new affordable housing. He also was a member of the city Housing Authority from 1983 to 1988.
He also served on the board of Baltimore's Associated Catholic Charities and raised money for the mission work of his brother, the Rev. John F. Guidera, in India.
Mr. Guidera started in real estate in 1947 in the company his father, Thomas J. Guidera Sr., had started. The firm built and sold hundreds of houses in the Loch Raven, Ridgeleigh and Lutherville neighborhoods of Baltimore County.
In the mid-1950s, Mr. Guidera started Landmark Realty. In 1968, he joined Union Federal Savings & Loan in Baltimore as president, and stayed on as senior vice president when it merged with First Federal of Annapolis Savings & Loan in 1970.
In 1978, he launched Financial Associates of Maryland, which built communities in Howard and Baltimore counties and several townhouses and condominiums in Ocean City, including the marina-home community of Harbor Island, a project Mr. Guidera told friends he considered among his finest business achievements.
Born in Roland Park, Mr. Guidera graduated from Loyola High School in 1941. He attended Loyola College for two years before being drafted into the Army during World War II. Assigned to the 187th Combat Engineers, he received a Purple Heart after being wounded in the Battle of the Bulge.
Mr. Guidera graduated from Loyola College in 1947, and that year married the former Kathryn Theresa Sweeney of Washington. They had courted through letters during the war and had met on a double date.
The couple reared six children. Mr. Guidera enjoyed taking them and his grandchildren fishing near Ocean City, and sharing with them his lifelong passion for baseball.
A Mass of Christian burial was to be held at 10:30 a.m. today at St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church, 5502 York Road.
He is survived by his wife and six children -- daughters Mary G. Loker of Phoenix and Ann Taylor of Bel Air, and sons, Thomas J. Guidera III and John P. Guidera, both of Baltimore, Mark G. Guidera of Lutherville, a reporter for The Sun, and Dr. Paul M. Guidera of South Windsor, Conn.; his mother, Mary Hild Guidera of Baltimore; six sisters, Mary Cummons, Rita Zungailia and Betty Bollinger, all of Baltimore, Patricia Maas of Timonium, Anne Mace of West Chester, Pa., and Joan DeSantis of Cockeysville; and two brothers, the Rev. John F. Guidera, S.J., of Jamshedpur, India, and James Guidera of Baltimore; and eight grandchildren.
Memorial donations may be sent to: Jesuit Jamshedpur Mission, c/o Guilford Towers, 14 W. Cold Spring Lane, Baltimore 21210; or Associated Catholic Charities, 15 W. Franklin St., Baltimore 21201.