Warren E. Parsley Sr., the College of Notre Dame's buildings and grounds supervisor who had earlier renovated homes in Baltimore's older neighborhoods, died of cancer Saturday at his residence in the Lauraville section of Northeast Baltimore. He was 56.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Pen Lucy, Mr. Parsley learned carpentry from his grandfather and father, who built numerous homes in the Baltimore suburbs. A sketch of his life that he wrote said he began working weekends and summers alongside family members when he was 11.
A 1967 City College graduate, Mr. Parsley attended Chicago Technical College in Chicago and served in an Army Corps of Engineers combat unit from 1968 to 1971 as a construction supervisor in Vietnam. He built bridges and roadways capable of handling military equipment.
After his service time, he returned to Baltimore and did carpentry work in Ellicott City while he studied at the Community College of Baltimore.
In 1972, Mr. Parsley founded a business and focused on the city's neighborhoods, including Fells Point, Federal Hill and Charles Village. He also worked on old Baltimore County residences in Oella and Ashland.
Family members said he was attracted to old construction techniques and was often called on to install pressed tin ceilings in renovated kitchens.
"He had a fascination with Baltimore's architecture and the way its old houses were put together," said his brother, David J. Parsley, an electrical engineer who lives in Perry Hall.
He also worked with several Baltimore construction firms, including Rod Brewer, Hunter Associates and the Strutt Group.
In 1987, Mr. Parsley became assistant superintendent of City Builders, a program of the city Department of Housing and Community Development. He helped train unskilled city youth in the use of shop machinery and construction techniques to assist them in getting permanent jobs. The program was abolished in 1992.
At that time, Mr. Parsley joined the buildings staff of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.
"He was a perfectionist," said John L. McNulty, the college's plant engineer supervisor. "He was the kind of person who wouldn't quit until he learned all he could about a subject."
He credited Mr. Parsley with discovering a potential structural failure at the college's landmark Gibbons Hall in the center of its North Charles Street campus.
Mr. Parsley saw that tin ceilings were buckling on an upper floor and found main structural trusses in the building were starting to sag under the weight of air-handling equipment installed many years after the 19th-century building was constructed.
Mr. Parsley windsurfed on the Chesapeake Bay. He also liked to canoe and sail.
Services were held yesterday in Parkville.
In addition to his brother, survivors include three sons, Warren E. Parsley Jr. of Havre de Grace and Jason Parsley and Joshua Parsley, both of Lewes, Del.; his parents, Clarence and Dorothy Parsley of Bayside Beach; three other brothers, Paul Parsley of Bayside Beach, Mark Parsley of Baltimore and John Parsley of Hurlock; three sisters, Mary Mulcahy, Anita Ford and Martha Bauhaus, all of Baltimore; and three grandchildren. He had been married to the former Linda Hayes.