Robert G. Proutt, home builder and former lacrosse star, dies

Retired home builder worked in Lochearn and West Towson and had been an All American lacrosse player

Robert George Proutt, a retired home builder and lacrosse player who was inducted in the University of Virginia Athletic Hall of Fame, died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Dec. 21 at his Monkton home. He was 88.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Anne Arundel County and in Guilford, he was the son of Thomas N. Proutt and his wife, Genevieve Jenkins.

He was a boarding student at St. Paul's School, where he graduated in 1946. He was captain of its lacrosse team and played varsity lacrosse as a crease defenseman.

In his senior year, he and his teammates defeated the Princeton University team in a preseason scrimmage on St. Paul's athletic field, then in Mount Washington.

Bill Tanton, the retired Evening Sun sports editor, recalled how Princeton's coach called for a rematch — on his home field.

"At the second scrimmage game, St. Paul's won a second time," said Mr. Tanton.

His son, Robert Jenkins Proutt, also recalled the story. "The St. Paul's team accepted the challenge but their team bus was delayed and they had no time for practice on the university's field. They asked for time but were told: 'Play now.' They still won."

Mr. Proutt enrolled at the University of Virginia and earned a bachelor's degree in 1950. He was a member of the Zeta Psi Fraternity.

Family members said he and his teammates at Virginia restarted the school's lacrosse program, which had been stopped during World War II. He was team captain twice and played in three North-South All-Star games. He was an All-America selection three times.

In 1949, the New York Times reported Mr. Proutt was present at the Statler Hotel when he and fellow members of the All-America team were the guests of honor at a U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association banquet.

After leaving Virginia, Mr. Proutt returned to Baltimore and began building custom homes in a business founded by his stepfather, Ralph C. Talbott. He had earlier worked summers in the business.

"My father grew up learning the home construction business," said his son, who lives in White Hall in northern Baltimore County. "In the early days they developed parts of Lochearn and later worked in West Towson along Morningside Drive and Piccadilly Road.

"They built a standard, three-bedroom brick home with a slate roof. It was very solid," said his son.

Mr. Proutt later built homes in Campus Hills in Towson, and in Lakehurst, Lake Manor and Charlesmead in North Baltimore.

He later developed the Dance Mill section of Baltimore County near the Loch Raven Reservoir. He was also associated with builders Croker & Potter.

His son said Mr. Proutt's last home was one he built for himself in Monkton about 15 years ago.

Mr. Proutt continued to play lacrosse at the Mt. Washington Lacrosse Club in the 1950s. He was not particularly tall — 5 feet, 8 inches — but was known as a tough competitor, friends said.

He later coached at Towson University, the Baltimore Lacrosse Club, University Lacrosse Club and Carling Lacrosse Club. He gave up coaching in 1967 and spent his weekends watching his son play for University of Virginia.

About 30 years ago, Mr. Proutt resumed lacrosse coaching for the Manor Tavern summer league.

Mr. Proutt was inducted into the University of Virginia Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012 at a ceremony in Charlottesville.

"My father had a humble personality and he had a million friends," said his daughter, Catherine Lears Bennett of Towson. "He stood out in a group and told stories in a good way. People liked being around him. After he moved to Monkton, he liked his life in the country. He liked the solitude."

A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5601 N. Charles St.

In addition to his son and daughter, survivors include his wife of nearly 33 years, Caroline Latrobe "Lynn" Proutt; another son, James Taylor Proutt of Fallston; another daughter, Frances Winship Skeen of Baltimore; 10 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. His marriage to Frances W. McLean ended in divorce.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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