Gary M. Brightwell, a Finksburg construction executive and developer, died July 13 in an automobile accident on Interstate 70 east of Mount Airy. He was 57.
From his successful entrepreneurial career to his affinity for speedboats, Mr. Brightwell was an ambitious risk-taker who took particular delight in the rewards of prosperity.
"He was born poor and ... he liked to be rich," said Janet Walker of Reisterstown, a cousin. "He enjoyed it, and he enjoyed spending it with other people so they could enjoy it. He was very generous, and he enjoyed life."
Mr. Brightwell was born and raised on a dairy farm in Reisterstown and performed odd jobs in his youth. After graduating from Franklin High School in 1960, the 17-year-old Mr. Brightwell left home to paint radar towers for a military contractor.
The job took him to military installations around the world. It was potentially dangerous work: On at least one occasion, Mr. Brightwell saw a colleague fall to his death. After seven years, he returned to Reisterstown and began working in concrete construction.
In less than a year, Mr. Brightwell left the company and founded his own firm, Brightwell-Troxell Concrete Construction Inc.
The company did well enough over the years to allow Mr. Brightwell to branch out. With Brightwell Properties Inc., he entered the commercial real estate business. Last year, he established Stone Slingers of Maryland Inc., a company that specializes in transporting rock from quarries.
Also last year, he became a co-owner of Oakmont Builders LLC, a home-building firm.
His competitive spirit also showed in Mr. Brightwell's leisure activities. He piloted planes, raced speedboats and shot skeet.
"He was just very driven, very ambitious. He did whatever it took to get the job done," said his wife, Patricia Dawn Brightwell. They were to celebrate their fifth anniversary Friday. "There were things he knew he wanted in life, and he just went after them," she said.
Mr. Brightwell's first marriage, to Patricia Muirhead, ended in divorce in 1973.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. today at Reisterstown United Methodist Church, 246 Main St., Reisterstown.
Mr. Brightwell is also survived by a son, Raymond Lee Wezik, and a daughter, Jennifer Ann Brightwell, both of Finksburg; a stepdaughter, Kimberly Miller of Florence, N.C.; his mother, Emma Jane Brightwell of Reisterstown; a brother, Dale Brightwell of Cockeysville; and two sisters, Jeanette Arthur of Eldersburg and Joan Hartmann of Los Angeles.