John T. Houck, a former Sunpapers route owner who later owned and operated a business that repaired alternators and starters, died Monday of heart failure at Franklin Square Hospital. He was 90.
Mr. Houck was born and raised in Connellsville, Pa., where he graduated from high school in 1937.
In 1942, he moved to Baltimore and went to work for the old Glenn L. Martin Co. plant in Middle River.
After the end of the war, Mr. Houck became a newspaper route owner in Hamilton and the surrounding neighborhoods.
Mr. Houck's family worked in the seven-day-a-week business that included delivering The Sun, Evening Sun and The Sunday Sun, taking calls from subscribers, and walking door to door through the neighborhoods, collecting payments.
"During summers, my daily routine was to get up at 3:30 a.m., deliver papers, and meet dad at the Tottle House on Harford Road, where we would have breakfast," said his son, David M. Houck of Port Deposit.
Mr. Houck had a reputation for making sure that the infrequent broken window from a misdirected paper was always repaired immediately.
For many neighborhood youngsters, their first job was working for Mr. Houck, who stressed timely delivery, no matter what the weather, while encouraging politeness.
After retiring in 1978, Mr. Houck opened Jayco Inc., repairing automotive alternators and generators. He retired a second time in 1993.
The longtime Stoneleigh resident moved to Oak Crest Village Retirement Community in 1996. He enjoyed playing guitar and piano.
He was a former communicant of St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church in Gardenville, and was a member of St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church in Rodgers Forge.
His wife of 66 years, the former Mary Ann Martis, died in 2006.
A funeral Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Saturday in the chapel at Oak Crest Village, 8820 Walther Blvd., Parkville.
Also surviving are two daughters, Rosemary Hunter of Towson and Suzanne Houck of Boulder, Colo.; three brothers, Pat Houck of Kensington, N.Y., James Houck of Ewing, Va., and William Houck of Vero Beach, Fla.; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Another son, John D. Houck, died in 2001.