Jean S. Fugett Sr., a retired National Security Agency staff member and patriarch of his family, died of heart failure Tuesday at his Randallstown home. He was 88.
Born in Westchester, Pa., he was the son of Joseph Fugett, a teacher who had a school named after him — and who was the son of a slave. His mother was Hazel Schloss, a 1912 African-American graduate of the University of Kansas.
He was a 1946 Westchester High School graduate who excelled at music and performed in the school orchestra.
"He grew up in segregated Westchester, and said he had to be twice as good because he was black," said his son, Jean S. Fugett Jr. "He loved his country and was a patriotic American."
After high school, he joined the Army, and played French horn in an Army band. Family members said he never lost his love of jazz.
While in the Army he was assigned to Fort Meade and played in the base band under the brother of Nat King Cole, Ike Cole, who led the ensemble.
He met his future wife, Carolyn Cooper, a Baltimore resident, at a dance where he was playing.
They married in 1951 and Mr. Fugett raised her son, Reginald F. Lewis, who became an attorney and entrepreneur who would later go on to head Beatrice Foods, among other business interests.
"My father was a Colts season ticket holder, and in 1958, when Reggie wanted to go to New York to see the Colts-Giants championship game, Reggie bought a scalper's ticket and wound with up with a better seat than my father had," said Jean Jr.
Mr. Fugett attended what is now Morgan State University and played center on the school's 1949 football team. He completed his degree in education at then-Coppin State College. While a student at Coppin State, he worked at the post office and walked to his classes from his home on Mosher Street.
He then became a Baltimore public school teacher and taught fifth grade. He was assigned to Abraham Lincoln School at Mulberry and Payson streets.
One of his students was Gregory Kane, who went on to be Baltimore Sun columnist. In 2001, Mr. Kane wrote: "Thanks to Mr. Fugett and a plethora of other superb public school teachers in the Baltimore of the 1950s and 1960s, I learned about [fractions.] And about the decimals and percentages and the algebra and geometry to boot."
After he left teaching, Mr. Fugett joined the National Security Agency. His position was classified, but he later told family members he worked in breaking codes. While at the NSA, he was posted to Turkey and taught coding.
Mr. Fugett and his wife raised their children in the 2800 block of W. Mosher St. in the Rosemont community. They were active members of St. Edward Roman Catholic Church parish, where the Fugett children attended school.
"He believed that football was an American sport that taught many things, and he introduced the sport to all of his children," said Jean Fugett Jr., who played football at Cardinal Gibbons High School and graduated from Amherst College. He later played for the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.
"The family stressed education, hard work and perseverance," said a 1993 Baltimore Sun article about Mr. Lewis and his upbringing.
Mr. Fugett's daughters played basketball and swam, and were Baltimore swimming pool lifeguards.
"He believed to be a well-rounded person, you had to exercise your mind and your body," said his daughter, Dr. Rosalyn Wiley of Cockeysville, vice chair of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum board. "As children, we exercised every morning before school."
After retiring from the NSA, Mr. Fugett devoted himself to family history and genealogy.
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He traced the family to a Tennessee plantation and did detailed research on an ancestor, Henry Bakeman, a free black man from New York who fought in the Revolutionary War.
In 2004, Mr. Fugett became the first black man to join the Maryland Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, and in 2009, he became the first black president of the John Eager Howard Chapter of the SAR.
"He was a true patriot, and he was a man who searched for the truth," said son-in-law Elliott Wiley of Cockeysville.
Mr. Wiley also recalled that his father-in-law "had a chuckle that would warm a room."
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Monday at St. Edward's Catholic Church, Poplar Grove and Prospect streets.
In addition to his son and daughter, survivors include his wife of 65 years; two other sons, Anthony Fugett of Owings Mills, the Baltimore County NAACP president, and Joseph M. Fugett of Randallstown, a Catholic Charities staff member; another daughter, Sharon Sands of Los Angeles, an attorney; 13 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren. Reginald F. Lewis died in 1993.