George W. “Jack” Tyrie Jr., the third-generation proprietor of John Tyrie & Son, the landmark Cockeysville tombstone company, who also served three terms on the Baltimore County Council, died Nov. 27 of a heart attack at Gilchrist Center in Towson. The longtime Lutherville resident was 92.
“Jack had a niche business serving the small church cemeteries in Baltimore County,” said John O. Mitchell III, chairman of both the Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home Inc. and Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens Inc. "Installing granite markers was his thing."
George Walter Tyrie Jr., the son of George W. Tyrie Sr., owner of John Tyrie & Son, and his wife, Charlotte Zink Tyrie, a homemaker, was born and raised in Cockeysville. He was a Towson High School graduate and earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Baltimore.
After serving as a private first class in the Marine Corps from 1945 to 1946, Mr. Tyrie joined the family-owned and operated tombstone company that had been established in 1898 by his grandfather, John Tyrie, a Scottish stone cutter from Perth who earlier had settled in Cockeysville after moving from Pennsylvania to work in the nearby Beaver Dam marble quarry.
When his grandfather opened the business at its York Road location, the then-York Turnpike was a dirt road.
Mr. Tyrie’s father went to work for John Tyrie & Son, and was the “Son” in the business, in 1904. He eventually took over operation of the company, which is thought to be the oldest family-owned and operated monument company in Baltimore County and quite possibly Maryland.
In an interview with the Towson Times for the company’s 100th anniversary in 1998, Mr. Tyrie said the company during his grandfather’s and father’s time employed 16 to 18 stonecutters.
“Grandpa cut the Cockeysville marble on the front of this building and the marble for the Second National Bank in Towson. Grandfather ran this place like a sweatshop,” he said.
“Grandpa and Daddy put some great big monuments up down in Prospect Hill Cemetery [in Towson]. You can go down there and see the tallest one — a great big spire. ... They used to haul ’em down to the cemetery — can you believe it? — in a horse and wagon. Took 'em all day to get there, a day to get back,” Mr. Tyrie explained in the news article.
Mr. Tyrie, who had been business manager, took over the business after the death of his father in 1970, and worked with customers, assisting them in design and offering options for the monuments they were purchasing.
Mr. Tyrie found helping the bereaved i select a design that recalled the life of their loved one most gratifying.
According to the Towson Times article, Mr. Tyrie helped commemorate the life of a little boy who was killed on his garden tractor. “We etched his basketball and his little tractor on the stone,” he said.
Mr. Tyrie’s display room had photos of gravestones that his firm had produced.
“There are other gravestones — some small and modest, a few towering and ornate,” observed the newspaper. “A few of etchings of the dearly departed. Some have scenic designs, pastoral farm scenes, flying geese, golf players, evergreen trees, running deer, firetrucks, tractors, trailers even a dog chasing rabbit.”
“We can put on any scene they want, or their picture,” Mr. Tyrie explained in the interview.
According to his son, George W. Tyrie III, about 20 years ago they stopped manual engraving the marble or granite stones at their York Road location.
“Today, the design is sent to the Columbo Stoneworks in Barre, Vermont, where everything is done, including the factory lettering,” said Mr. Tyrie, of Parkton, who is the fourth generation to work in the business, and oversees the cemetery installation of the monuments.
The business was purchased in 2017 by Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens — it still remains under its original name — and the elder Mr. Tyrie retired.
“Jack was easygoing and very much a gentleman, but he was not an outgoing or aggressive person,” Mr. Mitchell said. “He was just a very personable nice guy and enjoyable to talk to.”
Mr. Tyrie had a second career in Baltimore County Democratic politics.
From 1959 to 1961, he was the committing magistrate at the Cockeysville Police Court, and in 1962, he was elected from the 3rd District to the County Council, a position he held until 1974. During his councilmanic career, he had served as chairman.
Mr. Tyrie, who was a Mason, was a lifetime member of the Cockeysville Volunteer Fire Company and a member of the Timonium-Cockeysville Kiwanis Club.
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