Walter H. Jones Jr., 84, third-generation costumer


Walter H. Jones Jr., retired third-generation owner of A. T. Jones & Sons, a landmark North Howard Street costumer that transformed generations of Baltimoreans into characters factual and fictional, died Tuesday of complications of diabetes at a Sarasota, Fla., nursing home. He was 84.

Mr. Jones, who planned a career in engineering, was called home from Duke University by his father during the Depression to help out in the family business that was started by Alfred Thomas Jones in 1868.

The company -- the second-oldest costumer in the United States and now owned by a former employee -- has been at 708 N. Howard St. since 1955; its building on Baltimore Street was burned during the Great Fire of 1904.

Mr. Jones was 26 when he joined the business that not only made costumes but was packed from basement to attic with period clothes, hats, beards, Civil War muskets, mustaches, armor, stuffed camels, papier-mache chickens and reportedly the coat Benjamin Franklin wore to the palace in Versailles, France.

"Never throw anything away. Some day it will come in handy," has been the business creed throughout the years.

Mr. Jones could deftly transform a customer into a cavalry officer, French courtesan, Roman senator, Santa Claus or even Marie Antoinette.

In addition to overseeing the fitting of irascible husbands into costumes for parties arranged by their wives, Mr. Jones' legendary diplomacy was often called on as he explained to heavyset women why they ought to reconsider going to a party as Helen of Troy.

For years, there wasn't a Vagabond Players, Paint and Powder, Poly Follies or Baltimore Opera Company production or Hochschild Kohn Thanksgiving Parade that didn't feature Jones costumes. "He carried on the business, and the challenge he liked most was the annual Gridiron Club dinners in Washington," said George Goebel, who went to work for "Mr. Walter" fresh out of Polytechnic Institute in 1950 and wound up owning the business after Mr. Jones retired in 1970.

Margery O. Harriss, widow of former News American drama critic R. P. Harriss and an imaginative hostess known for her costume parties, called Mr. Jones "a courteous and fascinating person who was always interested in showing customers unusual and interesting things."

Born and raised on University Parkway, Mr. Jones was a 1929 graduate of Polytechnic Institute. He and the former Elizabeth Glenn married in 1934. She died in 1974.

A former Homeland resident, Mr. Jones moved to Sarasota in 1977, two years after he and the former Jeanne Sellman Hoffman were married.

"Oh, he went to the theater and the opera, but in all honesty -- he really liked golfing above most anything else," said Mr. Goebel.

Plans for a memorial service in Baltimore are incomplete.

Mr. Jones is also survived by a niece.

Henry Hicks Hurt, 87, insurance executive

Henry Hicks Hurt, a retired insurance executive who was active in Presbyterian church affairs, died Wednesday of congestive cardiomyopathy at Edenwald Retirement Community in Towson. He was 87.

Mr. Hurt began his insurance career in 1933 as a general agent for Great American Insurance Co. and came to Baltimore with the company in 1941. He retired in 1989 as executive vice president of the Towson insurance company Rossman-Hurt-Hoffman Inc.

In 1941, he joined Towson Presbyterian Church, where he has been a trustee, treasurer and elder.

In the late 1950s, he began acquiring property for the church in Baltimore County to establish a retreat that evolved into Beetree, a 263-acre complex in Sparks that includes a camping center and a cemetery.

The former Park Avenue, Towson, resident moved to the retirement community in 1986. He was born in Covington, Va., and raised in Yonkers, N.Y. He earned his bachelor's degree in 1931 from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and served with the Navy during World War II aboard a submarine in the Pacific theater. He remained an active Naval reservist until 1974. He was a member of American Legion Post 22 in Towson.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. today at Towson Presbyterian Church, 400 W. Chesapeake Ave., Towson.

He is survived by his wife of 28 years, the former Kathryn M. Hine; a son, Alexander P. Hurt of Baltimore; three daughters, Helen H. Gehrenbeck of Normal, Ill., Anne Dorworth of Silver Spring and Joan A. Stinson of Glover, Vt.; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His first wife, the former Elizabeth Phillips, died in 1968.

Paul D. Allen Sr., 68, engineer, S&L; official

Paul D. Allen Sr., a retired building engineer and a former vice president of Baltimore Federal Financial FSA, died Tuesday of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, at Stella Maris Hospice. The Timonium resident was 68.

He had been affiliated with the former Baltimore savings and loan for 15 years and retired in 1990.

A licensed engineer, he began his career in 1956 with Sheraton Hotel Corp. in Rochester, N.Y., and came to Baltimore in 1963 to take charge of the Sheraton-Belvedere Hotel.

Born and raised in Farmville, N.C., Mr. Allen was educated in schools there and served with the Coast Guard during World War II.

He enjoyed oil painting, golfing and horseshoes.

Services were held yesterday at the Evans Funeral Chapel in Timonium.

He is survived by his wife of 51 years, the former Ann L. Slade; two sons, Paul D. Allen Jr. of Rocks and Robert M. Allen of Edgewood; a daughter, Ann Marie Redifer of Lutherville; two brothers, Willie G. Allen Jr. of Salisbury, N.C., and Harry S. Allen of Plymouth, N.C.; and eight grandchildren.

Pub Date: 5/11/96

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