C. Benjamin Mitchell III, a retired Baltimore health care executive who liked to play practical jokes and dedicated himself to amateur sports, died Tuesday at Johns Hopkins Hospital after being injured in a car crash on Argonne Drive. He was 66.
For 34 years, he worked as a referee on local college and high school lacrosse and football fields. He also ran the Rodgers Forge Teen Center at Dumbarton Middle School in the 1960s and early 1970s. A member of the Southern Lacrosse Officials Association for 30 years, he was a former president of the Towson Recreation Council.
In 1989 he was awarded the Charles Ellinger Memorial Award by the Southern Lacrosse Officials Association.
The Waverly resident was a popular figure in North Baltimore prep school circles. "He was fabled along York Road," said Robert Blatchley, a friend. "He helped a lot of people and worked for sports and charity."
Blatchley recalled an afternoon when Mr. Mitchell hired an a-rab's horse and brought the animal into a bar. He told the stunned bartender, "He'll have a bucket of oats."
Mr. Mitchell served as district sales manager and labor consultant for Maryland Blue Cross/Blue Shield's health and welfare funds from 1960 to 1988, when he became a consultant for the Columbia Free State Health Maintenance Organization. He retired in 1989.
Born in Baltimore, he was raised on East 33rd Street in the Ednor Gardens-Lakeside neighborhood. He attended St. Paul's School, where he played lacrosse. He was a 1960 graduate of the University of Baltimore and attended its law school.
He was nicknamed "Benny the Burglar" as a child, and it stuck - although friends and relatives no longer recall how he earned it.
Mr. Mitchell was an organizer of a Saturday afternoon charity event in the 1970s: a tug-of-war across York Road. The contest, which drew several hundred participants, was billed as a challenge match between two local taverns. The event was later moved to Towson University, where it continues.
A member of the Towson Recreation Council, where he volunteered for 25 years, he was a life member of the Flag House Association.
In 1952, he married the former Carol Jones, who died in 1979. He then married Barbara Healy, an artist, who survives him.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. today at the Mitchell Wiedefeld Funeral Home, 6500 York Road.
He is also survived by three sons, Robert S. Mitchell of Hampstead, C. Benjamin Mitchell IV of Daytona Beach, Fla., and Michael K. Mitchell of St. Michaels; a daughter, Suzanne Malinger of Deal Island, Somerset County; two brothers, Thomas W. Mitchell of Henderson, Nev., and Richard W. Mitchell of Baltimore; and six grandchildren.