xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement

George Van Buskirk, Maryland business development official, dies

George Van Buskirk
George Van Buskirk

George Van Buskirk, a retired Maryland economic development official, died of pneumonia Jan. 26 at the Blakehurst Retirement Community. The former Roland Park resident was 91.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, he was the son of Arthur Bostwick Van Buskirk, an attorney, and his wife, Katharine Jones. He was a 1946 graduate of the Putney School in Vermont and received a bachelor’s degree from Yale University. He served in the Army in Japan under Gen. Douglas MacArthur after World War II.

Advertisement

After leaving the military, Mr. Van Buskirk earned a degree at the Harvard Business School.

He moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked with several industrial firms. While there he met his future wife, Jean Dungan of Troy, Ohio. They married in 1957.

In 1964, he and his family moved to Baltimore, where he and a partner formed the Cushion Glide Company, a business that distributed window hardware fittings. It was located on East 24th Street and produced metal sashes used in wooden window frames.

He later sold the business and became vice president of development at the old First National Bank of Maryland.

In the early 1970s he served as deputy director of the Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority, subsequently moving to Brussels as the state’s European director of economic development. There he was charged with promoting industrial development for Maryland, a position which he held from 1977 to 1981.

A 1980 Sun story said, “Mr. Van Buskirk ... believes that the word must be spread to a broader audience that the Free State is a good compromise between the high-cost but high sales concentration around New York and the low-cost but light sales centers of the sunny South.”

He shared an office with the Maryland Port Administration in Belgium.

“Some people know Baltimore, but Maryland is just not very well known,” he said in a 1979 Sun interview.

Advertisement

He also explained the state’s advantages: "We are in an interesting and attractive position in Maryland. We are not a large, strongly unionized state. We have an excellent location and distribution system, a solid base of skilled labor and many good schools and universities."

He returned to Baltimore in 1981 and retired as a financial development officer for the State of Maryland. In his last position, he organized a small business incubator at 1414 Key Highway in the former Mangels-Herold building.

In retirement he was a business volunteer and spent several months in the Ukraine and Hungary helping local leaders promote improved business practices, family members said.

Mr. Van Buskirk had been active in the Roland Park Civic League and the Baltimore Community Foundation.

He lived for 48 years on Ridgewood Road and participated in annual holiday caroling, a 4th of July parade and summer ice cream making parties.

Mr. Van Buskirk, who spoke four languages, was a member of the French Club at Blakehurst.

Advertisement

He had been active in Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church for more than 50 years and was a church elder, stewardship chair and Sunday school teacher. He belonged to the church theater group and enjoyed playing the role of Moonshine in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

He was also a 20-year volunteer docent for the Maryland Zoo in Druid Hill Park.

“He loved working with the birds and the polar bears,” said his daughter Barbara J. “Barb” Van Buskirk of Baltimore. “As a zoo volunteer, he took animals to area schools and shared his knowledge with the students. He had a magic touch in getting children interested in the habits and stories of the animals.”

Mr. Van Buskirk and his wife traveled to 57 countries and five continents. His daughter said his favorite country was Nepal, where he enjoyed trekking through the Himalayas.

A member of the Elkridge Club, he played tennis and golf for seven decades. He loved music and subscribed to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Center Stage.

“He never missed an opportunity to sit down at the piano and play some of his favorite Broadway tunes,” his daughter said.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. March 14 at the Episcopal Church of The Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles Street.

In addition to his wife of 63 years, a former director of the Baltimore Sisters Cities program and his daughter, survivors include another daughter, Margot Van Buskirk Hoerner of Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and six grandchildren. His daughter, Laura Jane Van Buskirk, died in 1980.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement