Ellis Morris Sarkin, a gifted musician forced to put down his flute and pick up a wrench during the Depression to support his family, died Dec. 8 at Sinai Hospital of complications from heart ,, surgery. He was 90.
Born in Baltimore, Mr. Sarkin was the last surviving child of Jacob and Annie Sarkin, Jewish immigrants who came to this country from Russia. He was a longtime resident of Northwest Baltimore who moved to Glen Arm in 1967.
Mr. Sarkin graduated from City College in 1923 and won a scholarship to Peabody Conservatory of Music, where he studied flute from 1923 to 1924. He then played with the Washington Symphony Orchestra and toured with several bands until his musical career was interrupted.
"My father was a musician by temperament and nature," said Michael H. Sarkin of Towson. "He became a plumber to support his family during the Depression because he simply couldn't make a living as a musician. He was very happy when he was able to return to music."
The elder Mr. Sarkin was an apprentice to local plumbers in the early 1930s before getting a master's license and operating a plumbing business that served the Baltimore-Washington area. At the same time, he began to invest in real estate.
In 1931, he married his childhood sweetheart and next-door neighbor, Mary Cecilia McKinley. She died in 1983.
Mr. Sarkin served in the National Guard during World War II and was stationed in Panama for several years, where he worked on Allied vessels moving through the canal. He returned to Baltimore after his discharge and continued to expand his real estate investments with the management of his holdings eventually becoming a full-time job.
But throughout his life, Mr. Sarkin's love of classical music and opera endured. He resumed playing the flute and violin in the early 1960s and later, he added the viola and piccolo to his repertoire.
He finally returned to his true love in the late 1970s, when he joined the Gettysburg Symphony Orchestra. He also performed with the Towson State University Orchestra, the Harbor Players and several chamber groups.
"All of [us] appreciated his music," said Mr. Sarkin's eldest son, William J. Sarkin of Glen Arm. "Unfortunately, none of us was musically inclined. I tried to learn piano when I was very young, but I didn't have much of a talent for it."
Private services were held Dec. 9 at Johnson Funeral Home in Towson.
In addition to his two sons, Mr. Sarkin is survived by another son, John M. Sarkin of Baltimore; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
Pub Date: 12/27/96