Jeffrey C. Raymond, the communications director for the Baltimore City Department of Public Works who appeared at water main breaks and other urban infrastructure calamities, died of an apparent heart attack Sunday at his Guilford home. He was 56.
“He was known as the face and voice of DPW due to his frequent appearances on television and radio news programs, as well as in print and online media," said Rudy Chow, Department of Public Works director, in a statement.
Born in St. Louis he was the son of Alan Raymond and Merle Cole, he was a graduate of the John Burroughs School in Ladew, Missouri, where he played football. He earned a political science degree at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa.
He was a reporter on papers in Iowa, Missouri and Illinois before moving to Baltimore and joining the old Patuxent Publishing and its Towson Times, Jeffersonian, Catonsville Times and Arbutus Times. He was part of a team that covered Baltimore County government.
From 1997 to 2006 he was a real estate and economic development reporter for the The Daily Record in downtown Baltimore. He was later its web team editor and managing editor for business.
“Jeff was highly respected by the business community and the staff of the paper,” said Tom Linthicum, former executive editor of The Daily Record and a former Baltimore Sun editor. “He was a serious and conscientious journalist. He also had a great sense of humor.”
He joined the University of Maryland, Baltimore in 2006 and handled media relations over the years for the the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, and what is now the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law until he left the post in 2013.
“Jeff was a wonderful employee and contributed enormously to the media relations department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore telling the stories of our faculty, staff and students. He made personal and professional connections and was a joy to work with,” said Laura Kozak, associate vice president for communications and public affairs at the university.
He then joined Baltimore’s Department of Public Works.
“He used his communications expertise to explain technical and very complicated department initiatives including the accelerated water main replacement program, compliance with the Sanitary Sewer Consent Decree, and numerous major capital projects," said a Department of Public Works statement. “Mr. Raymond strived to keep communications channels open with the public. His fairness and promptness in dealing with the media earned him respect among journalists, colleagues, and friends.”
As part of his duties, he appeared before media cameras at the July collapse of Howard Street at Pratt Street. He also commented on the loss of water service at Poe Homes, the reconstructions of the Guilford, Druid Hill Park and Ashburton reservoirs and issues with water billing, among other issues.
“He was one of the most decent and trustworthy people you could ever know,” said his colleague, Kurt Kocher of the Department of Public Works. “He was a good writer and could delegate responsibilities well. As a former reporter, he was able to calmly juggle all the bits and pieces required in the communications industry. You would see him up and down our building and you’d also see him on a scooter going on appointments downtown.”
Mr. Raymond was also past president, current treasurer and board member of the Baltimore Public Relations Council.
Gayle Economos, president of GVE Media/Public Relations, said, “He was warm, funny and caring. He was a great mentor to many people and he answered questions. He was a mensch to a lot of people.”
Mr. Raymond was a 17-year member in a 30-and-over Ponce de Leon baseball league, which plays games in the Baltimore suburbs. He was a catcher on the Seadogs and played from April to October, often on Sunday mornings.
“Jeff was smart and had the right demeanor. He never lost his cool. He had incredible endurance as a catcher and was quietly competitive,” said a teammate, Stephen Reichert of Baltimore.
He was a member and public relations manager for the Bolton Street Synagogue.
Mr. Raymond was a regular patron at the Waverly Farmers Market and at Pete’s Grille nearby. He lived on Newland Road often attended events hosted by an adjoining community, Oakenshawe.
“I’ve seen rats nearby, but I’ve also seen foxes, possums, and a raccoon,” he recently wrote in a Facebook post about his neighborhood. “There have been horrible crimes nearby, but there are also block parties and book clubs and visits to the farmers market about three blocks down the street...”
He also said, “I jog past gorgeous houses, a world class university, a wonderful art museum, and a revitalizing stretch of restaurants and stores. I’ve proudly represented this City (in particular the agency in charge of rat abatement) for more than 6 years and I know how hard the women and men of this City work, with limited resources, to make it a better place to live.”
Funeral services will be held at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday Oct 30 at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road.
Survivors include his wife of 20 years, Beth Cohen Raymond, an interior architectural designer; a son, Seth Raymond of Baltimore; his father and his stepmother, Alan Raymond and Myra Rosenthal of St. Louis; his mother and his stepfather, Merle Cole and Arnold Cole of Kansas City, Kansas; a brother, Greg Raymond of Kansas City; a sister, Amy Raymond of Whidbey Island, Washington, and a stepbrother David Cole of Seattle, Washington.