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Carol Bliss, longtime Baltimore real estate manager, dies

Loved ones remember Carol Bliss: "People flocked to her like an oracle."

Carol Bliss, a longtime Baltimore real estate manager who opened the Long & Foster office in Roland Park and mentored many colleagues in her 40-year career, died on Sept. 26 of complications from a stroke, her daughter said. The Devon Hill resident was 75.

Mrs. Bliss was firm yet understanding, competitive but levelheaded, and always fair — all of which combined to make her a successful manager who inspired deep loyalty from her real estate agents, former colleagues said.

"My mother always believed successful Realtors were built on loyalty," said her daughter, Kindall Rende of Homeland. "'The house you sell today? You're gonna sell it for them in seven years.'"

Mrs. Bliss had a keen sense of style and loved interior decorating. As a child, she liked to knock on neighbors' doors just to see inside their homes, Mrs. Rende said.

Her talent of building and maintaining strong relationships, both business and personal, made her a force to be reckoned with, friends and former colleagues said.

Joan Solomon, a coworker and longtime friend who later opened the Long & Foster Roland Park office with Mrs. Bliss in 2011, said the two started in the industry around the same time and bonded over a mutual love of fashion and traveling.

The pair became best friends who traveled to Paris, the south of France and the Baltic Sea, and vacationed in Rehoboth Beach, Del., with their children each summer.

"She without question was my mentor," Ms. Solomon said. "I watched her help people solve problems, not just business, but personal."

Carol Lee Bowling was born Oct. 7, 1940, in Baltimore to Helen Brossecker Bowling, a homemaker, and Augustine Bowling, a founder of Lincoln Lithoplates Inc.

The Bowlings moved from their home at Cliftmont and Erdman avenues in Belair-Edison when she was young, and she was raised in Towson and graduated from Towson High School in 1959.

Mrs. Bliss briefly attended Sullins College in Bristol, Va., then enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She left there before graduating, when she married Denny Bliss in 1963, Mrs. Rende said. The couple divorced after 11 years of marriage, but remained close until Mr. Bliss' death in 2014, their daughter said.

Mrs. Rende said her mother never once raised her voice. Mrs. Bliss' counsel was nearly as in-demand as positions on her real estate teams, she said.

"People flocked to her like an oracle," Mrs. Rende said. "She was just where you went when you needed advice."

Mrs. Bliss viewed herself and her colleagues in the real estate profession as "corporate America misfits," her daughter said. As a manager, she focused on professional development — and even lent her advice to competitors from time to time.

"She did nothing but grow and build people's careers," Mrs. Rende said.

Bill Magruder, a Long & Foster real estate agent who worked for Mrs. Bliss for more than 30 years, followed her from firm to firm.

"Under her tutelage, we learned how to listen, we learned how to negotiate, we learned how to problem-solve," Mr. Magruder said. "Consequently, we became successful real estate agents."

Mrs. Bliss' talent as a supervisor was most on display when things went wrong, he said. When an agent made a mistake, he said, she addressed the employee with warmth and humor.

JeanQuattlebaum, general manager at Monument Sotheby's International Realty and a former coworker, said the two had a mutual mentorship in more than 10 years of working together at O'Conor, Piper & Flynn, then later Coldwell Banker Real Estate.

Mrs. Bliss maintained a bustling office, with agents lining up to work with her, she said. "She was one of the finest women I ever knew."

During the housing boom, Mrs. Bliss demanded that her real estate agents thoroughly research the value of the homes they sold and, above all, deal honestly with clients, said John Evans, who owned O'Conor, Piper & Flynn.

"She was very professional and the other managers respected her so much for the fact that she had such a loyalty and could be so open with the aspects of running the company," he said.

P. Wesley Foster Jr., founder and CEO of Long & Foster, hired her out of retirement to help launch his company's Roland Park location, its first foray into the wealthy North Baltimore enclave.

"We wouldn't have gotten that Roland Park office off the ground as well as we did without Carol helping us," Mr. Foster said.

Michael Yerman, co-founder of Yerman Witman Gaines, said he quickly recognized Mrs. Bliss' potential for management when she worked for him.

"Sometimes you get a feeling from people," he said, "and she just had it."

Mrs. Bliss set high standards for her agents, and in return, she was a fierce advocate on their behalf in talks with management, Mr. Yerman said.

"She was a great fighter for the agents," he said. "That's why people would go where she went."

Mrs. Bliss was a member of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors and served on several of the association's committees, he said.

She was devoted to her family, and once took her granddaughter to a Britney Spears concert, Mrs. Rende said.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Bliss is survived by a brother, Marshall Bowling of Towson, four grandchildren, a niece and a nephew.

A private service and interment are planned.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

twitter.com/cmcampbell6

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