Roberto I. Gutierrez, co-founder of a Baltimore-based international freight forwarding and customs brokerage, died Monday of dementia at Arden Courts in Riderwood. He was 93.
The son of a restaurant worker and a homemaker, Robert Isaac Gutierrez was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, where he graduated in 1938 from high school.
Mr. Gutierrez worked in logistics and transportation before being drafted into the Army in 1941, where he continued working in that field throughout World War II.
In 1947, he married Mary Theresa Shettle, whom he had met at a USO dance in Baltimore during the war. She died in 2005.
Mr. Gutierrez and a partner, Geoffrey Footner, established Footner and Co. Inc., an international freight forwarding and customs brokerage in Baltimore in 1950. By the early 1970s, he had bought out Mr. Footner and was sole owner of the business.
"I've known Roberto before he and Geoff Footner started the business. It was the first freight forwarding and custom brokerage in the area, and he was the man behind the scenes who kept it going," said Helen Delich Bentley, the former congresswoman and chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission.
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"And when he took over the business, he insisted on keeping the name of Footner and Co.," said Mrs. Bentley. "He was always positive in his thinking about what could happen in the port of Baltimore. He always played an important role regarding issues in the port."
A son, Richard J. Gutierrez of Lutherville, worked in the family business for 31 years before taking over as president in 2012.
"Even though he retired in 2011, he still went into the office every day," said a daughter, Diana M. Gutierrez of Lutherville.
Mr. Gutierrez was a longtime resident of Cowpens Avenue in Towson.
Mr. Gutierrez was a communicant of Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church, 8501 Loch Raven Blvd., Baynesville, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 9 a.m. Saturday.
In addition to his son and daughter, Mr. Gutierrez is survived by four other sons, Robert D. Gutierrez of Lutherville, Glen Gutierrez of Towson, David B. Gutierrez of Salisbury and Keith C. Gutierrez of Prague; two other daughters, Elizabeth G. Reitz of Towson and Claire C. Keane of Berlin, Worcester County; 18 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. Another son, John K. Gutierrez, died in 2010; and another daughter, M. Cristina Gutierrez, died in 2004.