Jerome B. "Jerry" Trout Jr., who founded a real estate brokerage business and leased stores throughout Baltimore's shopping malls, died of respiratory failure Jan. 4 at his Ruxton home. He was 88.
Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Jerome B. Trout, a Hutzler's department store supervisor, and Olga Trout.
Raised on Mount Royal Terrace near Druid Hill Park, he was a 1946 graduate of Polytechnic Institute. He was a Baltimore Sun All-Metro lacrosse player that year.
He received a business administration degree at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he also played lacrosse.
Mr. Trout briefly joined an uncle, Leonard Trout, who ran a talent agency that booked vaudeville performers and dancers for local theaters, including venues on The Block along East Baltimore Street.
Mr. Trout served in the Army during the Korean War. He was assigned to the military police patrolling an Army prison near Okinawa, Japan.
After his military service, he became a leasing agent for the B. Howard Richards real estate firm on Charles Street in downtown Baltimore.
Mr. Trout worked with developer Ralph DiChiaro to lease the Towson Plaza Shopping Center on Dulaney Valley Road. He worked with its original tenants, which included an S.S. Kresge variety store, Reads drugstore, a Food Fair market and a Tuerkes leather goods store.
"The Tuerkes store had been downtown for years but it really flourished when it opened a Towson location," said Mr. Trout's son, Jerome B. Trout III of Glen Arm.
"As a young man, he developed a rapport with downtown merchants," said his son. "He had a knack for trying to understand what the retailer needed. He also had a good sense — it was by feel — of matching the retailer to the right demographic."
He founded Trout & Fox Inc. in 1967. With his partner, Milton Fox, he set up a real estate brokerage specializing in retail work.
"Jerry was a creative guy who figured ingenious solutions to retail problems," said Shale D. Stiller, his attorney for 45 years. "He was also fiercely loyal to those he followed."
His son said Mr. Trout identified newcomers to the Baltimore retail scene. Among them were Giant Food, Baskin-Robbins ice cream and Amy Joy-Dunkin' Donuts. He also worked with officials of Montgomery Ward to place their stores around the Baltimore Beltway.
"Baltimore was a tremendous market for Ward's," said his son. "He found them the right spots and they were dominant sellers."
That work led to Mr. Trout's becoming a real estate developer, his son said. He assisted in the development of Annapolis Mall [now Westfield Annapolis], Severna Park Mall and Dover Mall in Dover, Del. He also built neighborhood shopping centers throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.
Mr. Trout often did business from a table in the Cross Keys Deli or the old Roost Restaurant.
"My father had a real estate sense of vision," said his son. "He could stand in a cornfield and make an accurate prediction."
His son said Mr. Trout sized up trends in retailing.
The Morning Sun
"When the department stores were not comfortable selling jeans in the 1970s — even though they were selling well — he worked with the owners of Giant Foods to lease them their Pants Corral stores," said his son. "The old-line stores did not deal well with a casual line of clothes that was not blue-collar work wear."
Mr. Fox retired in 1985. Mr. Trout's son joined the company, which was renamed Trout Segall & Doyle. The elder Mr. Trout remained active in Trout Development until his death.
Mr. Trout was a sports fan and served on the board of the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum.
He was a member of Oheb Shalom Congregation.
Services were held Friday at Sol Levinson and Bros.
In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 26 years, Sallie Stewart, a former McCormick & Co. employee; a daughter, Sallie F. Trout of Austin, Texas; two stepdaughters, Ashley A. Chertkof of Baltimore and Hilary S. Trader of Ocean City; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.