Charles W. Supik, a retired chemist who became a customs inspector and who was active in the Czech and Slovak community, died of Lewy body dementia July 16 at Grand Oasis Assisted Living in Towson. He was 85 and had resided in Guilford.
Born in Baltimore and raised on North Port Street at Eager, he was the son of Edward Supik, a police officer, and his wife Elsie Svec, a housewife.
“Both his parents were of Czech descent. He initially lived with his parents, a brother, grandmother, great-grandmother, uncle and aunt in 14-foot-wide rowhouse,” said his brother, Mark D. Supik. “Eventually the house next door became available and my parents bought it. They raised their six children there and Charles lived with them until he got married. In those days, you didn’t move ten miles away.”
He attended St. Wenceslaus School and was a 1952 graduate of Mount Saint Joseph High School, where he was a member of its wrestling team. He earned a degree in chemistry at what is now Loyola University Maryland.
He worked at Pemco Porcelain Enamel Co. on Eastern Avenue in Bayview and helped make dyes and pigments for ceramic coatings. He later joined American Bitumuls, a division of Chevron Oil, making asphalt products.
Mr. Supik changed careers in 1969 and became a U.S. customers inspector and worked from an office at the Customs House on Gay Street.
“He felt this was the best job in the world. He got to board visiting ships and meet crew members from around the world,” said his brother.
He retired in 1999 from the U.S. Treasury Department as a senior customs inspector. During the Balkan wars he served a 90-day temporary duty in Macedonia as part of a team of U.N. sanctions monitors.
“His work with U.S. Customs created an interest in his Czech heritage and led to his being one of the founders and president of the Czech & Slovak Heritage Singers,” his brother said.
Mr. Supik was a founder and former president of the Czech and Slovak Heritage Association and the Czech and Slovak Heritage Singers. He was instrumental in organizing the Czech-Slovak Festival for the last 34 years.
He loved music, from playing the baritone horn in the St. Wenceslaus Drum and Bugle Corps to playing clarinet in the Loyola Dixieland Band.
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He sang for 30 years with the choir of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.
He also sang with the Baltimore Symphony Chorus, and the Baltimore Concert Artists’ “Messiah” group, the Johns Hopkins Community Chorus, the Handel Choir, Bach in Baltimore, the Herb Dimmock Singers, the Harford Choral Arts Society and the High Holy Day Choir at Beth Am Synagogue.
In 1997 he traveled to Wales for a concert tour with Cor Cymraeg Rehoboth, based in Delta, Pennsylvania, and sang with the group for several years.
He started visiting the Czech Republic soon after the Velvet Revolution. He attended Czech language school at Charles University in the Czech Republic.
A funeral be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St., where he was a member.
In addition to his brother, survivors include his wife of 31 years, Margaret Dees, a retired North Harford High School English teacher; a son, Howard Supik of Port Deposit; a daughter, Carla Supik also of Port Deposit; a stepson, James H. Dees of North Carolina; two stepdaughters, Peggy Dees of Baltimore and Ellen Dees of Nashville; two other brothers, Paul Supik of Rock Hall and Edward Supik of Hickory; two sisters, Elizabeth Hale of Haddam, Connecticut and Jane Craven of Baltimore; and 13 grandchilden. A son, Edward Supik, died in 2015. His first marriage to Helen “Pat” Williams ended in divorce.