George S. Everly Sr.

George S. Everly Sr.
(Baltimore Sun)

George S. Everly Sr., former secretary-treasurer of the old Baltimore Transit Co. who also directed and played in a dance band, died Oct. 25 of renal failure at Genesis HealthCare in Severna Park.

Mr. Everly, who had lived in Catonsville for more than 60 years, was 94.

The son of a Baltimore Transit Co. mechanic and a homemaker, Mr. Everly was born in Baltimore and raised on his family's farm in Ilchester, and later in Ellicott City.

After graduating in 1934 from Ellicott City High School, he studied accounting at the Baltimore College of Commerce, from which he graduated.

During World War II, he was drafted into the Army in 1941, and served as a radio operator with the 29th Division.

"He was in the second landing on Normandy's Omaha Beach on June 7, 1944," said his son, Dr. George S. Everly Jr., who lives in Severna Park.

"He spoke openly about the war, complaining only about the cold weather and noting that during the Battle of the Bulge, the Germans wore American uniforms. That did not seem right to him," said Dr. Everly. "Interestingly, he did not discuss the D-Day invasion with me until after we watched the movie 'Saving Private Ryan.'"

Discharged in 1945 with the rank of staff sergeant, Mr. Everly returned to Baltimore and went to work as a payroll clerk for the Baltimore Transit Co.

He rose to accountant and was promoted to assistant secretary-treasurer and finally secretary-treasurer.

As the company's most senior finance officer, it was Mr. Everly who steered the privately owned bus company into the hands of the Maryland Mass Transit Administration, now the Maryland Transit Administration, in 1970.

Mr. Everly served as assistant comptroller with the MTA after the state takeover of the Baltimore Transit Co., until retiring in 1978.

"After more than 30 years, he never once missed a day of work from illness," his son said. "He declined promotion to comptroller in order to care for my ailing mother, but he did serve briefly as chief financial officer as MTA underwent another transition."

While financial matters occupied Mr. Everly by day, it was big-band-style music by night.

Mr. Everly, who played alto saxophone and clarinet, began playing professionally when he was 11, and continued doing so until retiring 78 years later, at age 89.

"He began playing music on a local radio station when he was 12," his son said. As a teenager, he studied music and played jobs in Baltimore, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

"Sometimes he was too tired to hitchhike back home and would spend the night at his uncle 'Gentleman'Tom Garrity's speakeasy on East Pratt Street," said Dr. Everly.

In 1946, Mr. Everly formed a society dance band, George Everly and His Orchestra, and on his business cards printed the orchestra's motto: "Music That Will Please You."

Mr. Everly provided music at society affairs, weddings, private school dances and college functions.

"He'd be out playing four nights a week," his son said, and he also taught music students on the remaining nights and Saturdays.

In recent years, Mr. Everly formed another group with a pianist and drummer while he played sax. His vocalist was Silvia Solomon, who was married to the pianist, Harry Solomon.

The group had contracts with area senior centers where they provided entertainment.

"The song I really associate with my father is 'In the Mood,'" Dr. Everly said.

In addition to playing professionally, Mr. Everly was the Baltimore correspondent for DownBeat, the jazz magazine, for years.

Mr. Everly played his last engagement in 2006 and retired.

"He confided that it was his way of getting free passes to see the famous big bands of the era," his son said. "Music was his love. Music was his hobby."

Mr. Everly served for 50 years as president of his 1934 high school class and was a longtime member of Catonsville Presbyterian Church.

His wife of 43 years, the former Kathleen Webster, died in 1988.

Services were held Oct. 29 at the Sterling-Ashton-Schwab-Witzke Funeral Home of Catonsville Inc.

In addition to his son, Mr. Everly is survived by three grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.


Recommended on Baltimore Sun