Otis L. Adams, 92, real estate educator


Otis L. Adams, a retired real estate salesman who educated generations in his profession, died of congestive heart failure Wednesday at Genesis Eldercare Brightwood Center in Brooklandville. The Glen Arm resident was 92.

For more than three decades, he taught the principles of real estate at area colleges. He was also executive vice president of the real estate firm of Charles H. Steffey Inc.

Mr. Adams was born in Lancaster, Pa., and grew up in Baltimore in the Forest Park section and on St. Paul Street near the Episcopal Church of St. Michael and All Angels.

As a child, he heard the choir of men and boys practicing through an open window. His mother suggested that he cross St. Paul Street and seek a place among the choristers. Mr. Adams wound up performing in the ensemble from 1920 to 1970.

After his 1929 graduation from Polytechnic Institute, Mr. Adams attended the Johns Hopkins University and then became a salesman for Scott Paper Co. During World War II, he became a bomber technician for the former Glenn L. Martin Co., working at numerous airbases in the states.

Entering the real estate field, he was a salesman for about a decade at the Roland Park Co., and in the 1950s joined Steffey, where he remained until his retirement about a decade ago.

He taught a course in basic real estate practice at Hopkins for more than 30 years. He also taught students at Loyola College and the Essex, Dundalk, Catonsville and Harford County community colleges.

"He knew just about everybody in the business and was beloved in real estate circles," said Richard J. Roszel, a Baltimore Realtor associated with Coldwell Banker in Mount Washington. "He was quite a raconteur. He was an accomplished teacher -- he was witty and because of his long experience knew everything there was to know. He often used the Jesuit approach -- he'd answer a question with a question."

In 1964, the Maryland Real Estate Commission appointed him its education director and editor of the state publication, The Maryland Real Estate Commissioner.

"He was a wonderful teacher with a great season of humor," said Arthur E. Davis III, a broker and owner of Chase Fitzgerald & Co. "He could make a lot of very dull topics interesting. He was good at analyzing people and was attuned to their needs. And he just loved teaching."

For 31 years he wrote a monthly column, "Personalities and the Salesman's Side" in Real Estate News magazine, published by the Greater Baltimore Real Estate Board. In the 1970s, during a real estate slump, he began the practice of ending his columns with the phrase, "Business is good!"

Mr. Adams performed in the annual Paint and Powder Club musicals. He worked out at Towson YMCA twice a week until this past fall, and played handball there until he was in his mid-80s.

A member of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors since 1946, he served on many of its committees and in 1995 was awarded its lifetime achievement award. For the occasion, then-Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke declared Otis Adams Day in Baltimore.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 15 at St. Stephen's Traditional Episcopal Church, 11856 Mays Chapel Road, Timonium, where he was a member.

Survivors include his wife of 60 years, the former Emily Louise Mason; a son, Otis L. Adams III of Baltimore; a daughter, Emily Rock of Akron, Ohio; and a brother, L. Kenmar Adams of Ellicott City.

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