William R. ‘Bill’ Caltrider Jr., founder of Center for Alcohol and Drug Research Education in Towson, dies

William R. “Bill” Caltrider Jr. was a longtime member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

William R. “Bill” Caltrider Jr., the founder and president of the Center for Alcohol and Drug Research Education, who also played a major role in the rehabilitation facility Tuerk House, died of heart failure July 15 at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital. The Ednor Gardens resident was 75.

“Bill saved Tuerk House,” said Dr. Michael Hayes, who specializes in internal and addiction medicine and is an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “He was a great guy and a very bright man, and I don’t think the people at Tuerk House today understand the role he played. I think he’s hugely underappreciated.”


Lucy L. Howard, who served on Tuerk House’s board for 20 years, said: “There would be no Tuerk House without Bill. He was very involved in commercial real estate and played a huge role in getting Tuerk House a permanent home.”

Dennis E. Nitka was a Loyola University Maryland student in the 1990s when he and several college friends began attending a weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.


“[Mr. Caltrider] and a group of older men were trying to help us get our lives together,” said Mr. Nitka, who has 32 years of sobriety. “Bill never asked for anything, but he always showed up. He changed my life.”

Larry Sullivan, who has been in recovery for 34 years, said: “If I had to describe Bill Caltrider’s life in one word it would be ‘service.’ That’s the value he instilled in every one of us.”

William Roger Caltrider Jr., son of William R. Caltrider Sr., a carpenter, and Myrtle Caltrider, a registered nurse, was born in Baltimore and raised in Parkville.

After graduating from Parkville High School, the younger Mr. Caltrider received a full scholarship to Yale University and earned a bachelor’s degree in American studies in 1969.

He obtained a master’s degree in history from the Johns Hopkins University in 1975 and had completed the coursework at Homewood for his Ph.D.

Mr. Caltrider was on the faculty of Hopkins as a graduate assistant from 1969 to 1975 and taught history at Morgan State University from 1970 to 1971.

After leaving academia, Mr. Caltrider earned his real estate license and established and served as president of Federal Realty. In addition, he had been president of Argent Realty, the Northeast Real Estate Conservation Project, the Greater Northwood Community Council and Applied Technology Partners.

But his struggle with alcoholism came to define his life. At his death, he had celebrated nearly 39 years of sobriety and was “credited with helping countless people who suffered from addiction,” according to a family biographical profile.


In 1970, Tuerk House was established by Dr. Isadore Tuerk, who had been Maryland’s mental health commissioner from 1960 to 1968.

Tuerk House was initially operated at 10 N. Green St. under the auspices of the University of Maryland Medical Center until the two parted ways.

“It then wandered around to St. Joseph Monastery and to a motel on Loch Raven Boulevard, and it was Bill’s work that finally gave it a stable home,” said Dr. Hayes, a former medical director at Tuerk House.

Mr. Caltrider, who had been treasurer of Quarter Way Houses, put together the deal that enabled the recovery center to acquire the old Lutheran Hospital on North Ashburton Street for a dollar, where it has remained ever since.

“That deal solidified and stabilized Tuerk House. Otherwise, I don’t think it would have survived,” Dr. Hayes said.

Mr. Caltrider was Tuerk House’s treasurer and a board member for years. He was joined in his work there by the Rev. Joseph C. Verrett, a Josephite priest who held a doctorate in clinical psychology and was its executive director and clinical director.


“This is a guy whose life defined service and took such an active interest in people who were disinterested in themselves,” Mr. Sullivan said.

“He had a very humble way of living, and everything Bill did in his life was helping people, and he wanted the public to learn how to help people,” Mr. Nitka said. “His true passion was to help alleviate others’ pain.”

In 1994, Mr. Caltrider founded and served as president of the Center for Alcohol and Drug Research and Education, also known as CADRE, a nonprofit that acts as a clearing house for public policy information regarding the use of alcohol and other drugs.

Mr. Caltrider’s work took him to more than a dozen countries, including the Soviet Union, Thailand and Sweden, where he worked with treatment and prevention programs.

He spoke at numerous international gatherings, including a conference in Moscow that was one of the first to introduce Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 step program to the country.

“Bill was an eccentric guy, and he had this office in Towson that was a huge mess, but the stuff that came out of there was just incredible,” Mr. Nitka said.


Mr. Caltrider’s outreach in the world of addiction was extensive. He was vice chair of the Governor’s Drug & Alcohol Abuse Commission, as well as a member of the Governor’s Executive Advisory Council and the Baltimore Coalition Against Substance Abuse.

He wrote numerous essays regarding treatment, prevention and drug policy in the U.S. and Europe.

He helped organize the Drug Prevention Network of the Americas, which links prevention and treatment professionals in North and South America and the Caribbean.

He retired last year.

Mr. Caltrider enjoyed singing and was a longtime member of the old volunteer Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

Sister Rita Bueche, a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, and Mr. Caltrider were close friends who shared an interest in classical music and hymns.


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After his stroke, he was able to return to the chorus, where Sister Rita marveled that he was able to sing from memory Handel’s “Messiah.”

Mr. Caltrider read “three to four books a week,” said a cousin, Deborah S. Harper, of Towson.

A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 24 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at 1609 Kurtz Ave. in Lutherville.

Mr. Caltrider, who never married, is survived by 36 cousins.