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James J. Abromitis died June 15 in a white-water rafting accident on the Roaring Fork River while vacationing near Aspen, Colo.
James J. Abromitis died June 15 in a white-water rafting accident on the Roaring Fork River while vacationing near Aspen, Colo. (Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun)

James J. Abromitis, an executive who spent 30 years in the energy industry and once oversaw downtown Baltimore's underground steam and cooling system, died June 15 in a white-water rafting accident on the Roaring Fork River while vacationing near Aspen, Colo.

The Stevenson resident was 58.

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Born in Tokyo, Japan, he was the son of John Abromitis, a consultant to international businesses, and Maria Abromitis.

He lived overseas with his family and later settled with them in Tamaqua, Pa. As a boy, he competed in Little League Baseball and excelled in other sports.

"The highlight of this involvement was when he got to play with his Tamaqua Little League team in the elimination rounds at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa," said his wife, Allison Parker-Abromitis, a communications executive.

As a teenager, Mr. Abromitis devoted his summers to working as a mentor and coach at the Williamsport Little League Baseball Center.

He was a 1974 graduate of Marian Catholic High School in Tamaqua, where he played varsity football and baseball for four years and won academic and athletic honors. In his senior year, he was honored as a Pennsylvania scholar-athlete, and Parade magazine listed him among the 10 top scholar-athletes in the country.

At age 16, he enrolled at Villanova University, where he was a quarterback on the football team, and played a catcher and third base on the baseball team. He set school records in baseball. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering.

At the end of his senior year at Villanova he signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. He was a catcher at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, but he left baseball after injuring his shoulder.

He later earned a master's degree in business administration from the University of Pittsburgh.

"He was a great athlete," said Matt Mirchin, a friend and tennis partner from Lutherville. "He was a vicious competitor, but I loved to play with him and against him. He loved to win and hated to lose."

Mr. Abromitis joined Westinghouse Credit Corp. and worked at its offices in Pittsburgh and New York City, providing debt and equity financing for transportation, energy and industrial companies.

He subsequently became an official of Trigen Energy in White Plains, N.Y. In 1995, he was assigned to the company's Baltimore operation, Trigen Energy Baltimore/Washington. The company had a downtown Baltimore network of steam pipes connected to commercial buildings and hospitals. As utilities became deregulated, he worked to expand Trigen's business.

In 2000, The Baltimore Sun reported that Mr. Abromitis played a key role in a $469 million contract to supply the University of Maryland, College Park campus with electricity, heat and air conditioning.

"The deal with the team of Trigen Energy Corp. and Cincinnati-based Cinergy Corp. will provide the 35,000-student campus with energy services through 2019," the article said.

"Their campus is growing, and they needed substantial capital upgrades to keep pace," said Mr. Abromitis in the article. "And it makes a statement for Trigen, because it shows we can compete head-to-head against local utilities."

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He later joined the Exelon Corp. in Chicago and was responsible for running the downtown energy loops in Chicago, Boston, Houston and Las Vegas. He also led the firm's purchases of small, independent utility and energy systems.

He next became president and chief operating officer of WePOWER LLC, a California manufacturer and developer of wind turbines and solar thermal devices.

"Jimmy was just the kind of person you want to know. He had a kind and giving spirit," said a friend, Elizabeth Jones of Las Vegas. "He was so warm. He was happy, content, friendly and laughing."

At the time of his death he was president and chief executive officer of Trigon Energy Ventures LLC. He worked from the Inner Harbor.

"Jim was a warm, nice guy who was confident about his role in life," said Dr. Nelson Goldberg, a surgeon who played golf and tennis with him. "He was one of the few persons I know who would not make negative comments. Even stupid drivers who would cut in front did not upset him."

Mr. Abromitis enjoyed gardening — he raised peonies and roses — and hiking. He was also a dog lover and had two golden retrievers, Max and Harry.

A private celebration of his life will be held July 17.

In addition to his wife of 13 years, survivors include two sisters, Louise Jaskulski of Wilmington, Del., and Katherine Fuller of West Chester, Pa.; and two nieces.

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