William H. Pfeifer Jr., a veteran Baltimore County public schools educator who was an inveterate sports fan, died Oct. 19 from Parkinson’s disease at his Parkville home. He was 85.
“Everybody loved Bill Pfeifer. He was very outgoing, friendly and he obviously engaged well with people,” said Dr. Robert Y. Dubel, who headed Baltimore County Public Schools for 16 years before retiring in 1992.
Dr. Dubel noted that the two shared an educational connection — they both attended then-Western Maryland College in Westminster, now McDaniel College, “though I graduated earlier than Bill,” he said.
The son of William H. Pfeifer Sr., a Bethlehem Steel Corp. foreman, and Mildred Pfeifer, a homemaker, William Henry Pfeifer Jr. was born in Baltimore and raised in Highlandtown.
After graduating in 1950 from Polytechnic Institute, he enrolled at Western Maryland and studied mathematics, with a minor in physical education.
During his college years, he was a member of the ROTC, and played baseball and basketball.
In the summer he served as an assistant baseball coach at High A.C.,his former youth league team in Highlandtown that was coached by the legendary Sterling “Sheriff” Fowble, who began coaching youth baseball in 1946. Mr. Pfeifer had been captain of Mr. Fowble’s first team, according to The Baltimore Sun’s obituary for Mr. Fowble in 1991.
Mr. Pfeifer remained intimately involved with the team for 50 years and served as president of the Fowble Foundation.
After obtaining his bachelor’s degree from Western Maryland in 1954, he was commissioned a lieutenant and served for two years at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and Fort Knox in Kentucky.
He later received a master’s degree in education administration from Western Maryland.
Mr. Pfeifer began his career in 1956 as a physical education teacher and varsity baseball and basketball coach at Franklin High School, where he remained for 14 years.
In 1970, he was named assistant principal of Cockeysville Junior High School, then held a similar position at Towson High School.
He attained a professional milestone when in 1978 he was appointed principal of Parkville High School.
Family members said while at Parkville, he picked up the nickname of “Captain” — because he bore a strong resemblance to Capt. Merrill Stubing of the “Love Boat” TV show.
“Bill was at Parkville a long time and was loved by everybody,” said Dr. Dubel. “He knew how to work with the faculty, student council and the PTA. Parkville was always a happy school and never had problems.
“He was a strong believer in American values, and he imbued his students with those values,” Dr. Dubel added. “He was always very strong when it came to civics and citizenship.”
He also said Mr. Pfeifer was a strong supporter of a program that dealt with students who were involved with drugs and alcohol through education.
“He was a leader in that program,” Dr. Dubel said. “Those students using alcohol or drugs were put into evening school, and, at the end of the year, they were reviewed. If they had an unblemished record and had done well, they could rejoin their regular school.”
From 1988 until retiring in 1991, Mr. Pfeifer was principal of Overlea High School.
Mr. Pfeifef enjoyed playing golf and following the Baltimore Orioles, and was the former manager of the Padonia Swim Club.
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Family members said it was sports that brought together Mr. Pfeifer and his future wife, the former Mary Lou Ticer. The two met at a Baltimore Colts game in 1960 while seated together as season ticket holders.
Mr. Pfeifer always joked that the date was the cheapest he ever had, since she was a season ticket holder, family members said. They married in 1961.
“I picked a winner,” Mrs. Pfeifer said. “He was a sweet man, both at home and work. He never changed.”
Mr. Pfeifer was a longtime communicant of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, where he had served on the vestry and taught Sunday school for 28 years.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at his church, 1108 Providence Road, Towson.
In addition to his wife of 56 years, he is survived by two sons, Trey Pfeifer of Towson and Tim Pfeifer of Vero Beach, Fla.; two daughters, Leslie Kendall of North East and Stacey Pfeifer of Cobb Mountain, Calif.; and four grandchildren.