James P. Pallace Jr., a longtime Eastern Vocational-Technical High School vice principal, umpire and referee, died Aug. 3 of a urinary tract infection at Seasons Hospice at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center. The Parkville resident was 86.
“He was really loved over there,” said Dr. Robert Y. Dubel of Glen Arm, who was superintendent of the Baltimore County Public Schools for 16 years before retiring in 1992.
“Whenever I went over to see Ray Pluemer, who was the school’s principal, Jim would always greet me. He was such an outgoing guy,” Dr. Dubel recalled. “Ray really depended on Jim regarding the school’s diversified education program. He was very student-oriented and there was always a student in his office when I visited. He was also a pioneer in computing scheduling for students.”
Robert J. Kemmery Jr. was principal at Eastern from 1991 to 2004.
“Jim was such a great supporter of the faculty and staff and especially to me when I came to Eastern. He was not only a mentor to our students but also to our teachers, especially our new teachers,” said Mr. Kemmery, a Palmyra, Pennsylvania, resident.
“He had taught English at Kenwood High School and he brought that sense of community to Eastern. He knew the culture of Parkville, Essex, and Middle River, and he had the pulse of those communities."
James Patrick Pallace Jr., the son of James P. Pallace Sr., a lawyer who taught at what is now the University of Baltimore Law School, and also at City College, and his wife, Estella Javorsky Pallace, a homemaker, was born in Queens, N.Y., and when he was 12, moved to Parkville with his family, when his father took a teaching job at Mount Saint Joseph High School in Irvington.
Mr. Pallace graduated from Loyola Blakefield in 1951, and served in the Army as a private from 1953 to 1955. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1958 from what is now Loyola University Maryland.
Mr. Pallace began his teaching career in 1958 at Gwynns Falls Junior High School where he worked for three years before joining the faculty of Kenwood High School. When Eastern Vocational-Technical High School in Essex opened in 1970, he was appointed its first assistant principal, and spent the remainder of his career there until retiring in 1995.
“But he never really left," said a son, Daniel E. Pallace of Bolton Hill. “He continued working there as a substitute teacher until 2015."
“I think his greatest contribution was that he had a tremendous empathy for the work ethic and taught that in our diversified education program. The students would work part of the day with an employer and Jim would go visit the worksite,” Dr. Dubel said. “He had great empathy for students who were not going to college and made sure they were prepared for a work entry job.”
Edward W. Veit, an Eastern colleague who taught English and coached soccer at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, was a former president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County.
“He was vice principal when I was at Eastern and the unique thing about Jim was that he really liked the kids,” said Mr. Veit, a Parkton resident. “He was very good with the kids and he made sure they had jobs. He was very serious about going out and supervising the students at their jobs, and it wasn’t uncommon for him to be working until 7, 8 or 9 at night. He wanted to make sure that things were going well.”
He described Mr. Pallace as being “outgoing and friendly.”
Said Mr. Veit: “He liked moving around the school and talking to the kids.”
“The thing about Jim was that he could be direct, but caring. He held you or his students accountable,” Mr. Kemmery said. “He’d address an issue and then move forward.”
Mr. Pallace refused all offers of transfers and promotions to stay at Eastern.
“I’d ask him, ‘Jim don’t you want to be more than an assistant principal?' and he’d say, ‘Hell no, I don’t want that job. I’m happy doing what I’m doing,' ” said Tom O’Hara, of Middle River, a longtime friend and fellow umpire.
During his tenure as an educator, Mr. Pallace received numerous awards, some of which included being selected the Outstanding Young Educator in 1966 by the Maryland Jaycees, and in 1967, one of the Outstanding Young Men of America.
“He was a great man and had a big impact on many young lives in the Baltimore area through his influence as an educator, coach and sports official working year-round,” wrote Daniel E. Pallace in a biographical profile of his father.
Mr. Pallace was a member of the Mason Dixon Umpires Association.
“He officiated baseball, football and basketball games at the high school and college level,” he wrote. “He was also selected to officiate Major League baseball games when the umpires threatened to strike in 1987, although he never got the chance as the strike was settled prior to the start of the season.”
“First off, we’ve been friends since 1970, and we umpired many high school baseball games together. He was just a good guy,” Mr. O’Hara said. “Jim was a very good umpire. He knew the rules, mechanics and timing, and knew how to handle game situations, coaches and kids. Off the field, he assigned umps to summer baseball leagues, and sent us to where we were needed."
In addition to his two sons, Mr. Pallace is survived by his wife of 63 years, the former Dorothy Chojnowski; a daughter, Elaine Borrison of Parkton; two brothers, Robert Pallace of Columbia and John Pallace of Dover, Delaware; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren