Charles M. Armetta, 58, head of insurance agency in Lutherville


Charles M. Armetta, president of a Lutherville insurance agency whose interests included vintage cars and rock 'n' roll, died of a heart attack Tuesday at his Riderwood home. He was 58.

Mr. Armetta was born in Baltimore and raised in the Hillendale section of Baltimore County. He graduated from Towson High School in 1962, and began his career that year as an underwriter for Northwestern National Insurance Co. in Baltimore.

During the next 12 years, he was also a claims adjuster and field representative with Northwestern, then joined H. Thomas Grimes, an independent insurance broker, in 1974.

Since 1977, he had been president and an owner of Harford General Insurance Agency Inc. on Pot Spring Road, where his specialty was property-casualty insurance.

"I last talked to him Monday night about closing the office. Generally, we split the calls to our 11-member staff but he said, 'Let me call everybody.' It's kind of ironic, everyone had one last chance to talk with him," said Mark N. Hannahs, a partner in the agency. "He was a true gentleman, and his clients loved him. He was as honest as could be and worked very hard in this business for 40 years."

Son Robert C. Armetta of Lutherville, who has worked for the agency since 1992, recalled his father's manner with clients: "He came from the old insurance school, where everything was done one on one, and customer service was the most important thing. He liked taking care of his clients and finding out how he could fit their needs to what he had to offer."

Len Harris, chief executive officer of Senator Savings Bank in Towson and a friend for 23 years, recalled Mr. Armetta's magnanimous personality: "Charlie was the kind of guy who never said no to anyone. He was the most-liked and generous person I've ever known in my life."

Mr. Harris was a member of the agency-sponsored softball team on which Mr. Armetta played first base for many years. "He was very low-key, mild-mannered, and never displayed any temper. He'd even go up the umpire and talk nicely. We never saw him angry."

Mr. Armetta had a passion for cars from the 1960s, especially Corvettes.

Even though he had sold his Corvette, he still had in his collection a 1966 turquoise Ford Mustang, of which he was the original owner, with only 60,000 miles on the odometer. His second car was a two-door, red 1965 Chevrolet Impala convertible.

He lavished hours of attention on the two cars, which he kept in the garage of his Riderwood home. He liked entering the Mustang in auto shows and drove the Impala in area Independence Day parades.

He had an extensive collection of 45-rpm rock 'n' roll recordings from the 1950s and 1960s, which he played on a jukebox in the club basement of the Dennis Avenue home where he had lived since 1979.

"He had hundreds of them, and some of his favorite singers were Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison and the Righteous Brothers," said his high school sweetheart and wife of 37 years, the former Virginia Anne Teige.

Mr. Armetta was a member of the Chesapeake Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America and the Country Club of Maryland. He was a member and treasurer of the Safety Engineering Club of Maryland and American Legion.

He was a communicant of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Roman Catholic Church in Timonium, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Armetta is survived by his father, Michael S. Armetta of Parkville; a brother, Michael S. Armetta Jr. of Maryland Line; a sister, Alice D. Vanover of Hampstead; and two grandchildren.

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