Bill Pacy, 87, devoted father, lacrosse coach, passionate sailor, entrepreneur who built Frontier Town in Ocean City, Md., and developer who worked to revitalize downtown Baltimore, died of natural causes March 5 in Naples, Fla. He was visiting, hoping to regain strength after a year of hospitalizations, and return to his home in Waldoboro.
He was born Charles William Pacy in Baltimore on June 20, 1928 and grew up at 202 E. University Pky near Johns Hopkins University. He attended McDonogh School from the first grade all the way until graduation. Mr. Pacy was a three sport varsity athlete in football, wrestling, and lacrosse (high school All-American); McDonogh later inducted him into their athletic hall of fame. McDonogh was a second home for him and Mr. Pacy went on to serve two separate terms on the Board of Trustees; in particular he spearheaded the McDonogh 2000 fundraising campaign and McDonogh’s Corporate Campus initiative.
Mr. Pacy first tasted real responsibility the summer he was 16 years old when he was made captain of the Ocean City Beach Patrol as WWII snatched up older eligible men to fight in the war. He served the OCBP for nearly 10 years beginning at the age of 14. He graduated from Washington and Lee University during which time he was a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity, an All-American lacrosse player, and was scouted as a possible Tarzan replacement for Johnny Weissmuller. Mr. Pacy served for two years in the Navy and then began his adult working life in a family business building and managing movie theatres throughout Baltimore including the historic Senator Theater. On his own time, he also coached the University of Baltimore’s men’s lacrosse team taking them from last place to five national championships in the late 1950s. Mr. Pacy was inducted into UB’s athletic hall of fame in the early 2000s.
Disenchanted by the theatre business, he and a partner designed, built, and managed a western theme park known as Frontier Town in which he participated joyfully as marshal, rodeo clown, and occasional cancan “girl” in the “Old Saloon.” Frontier Town thrives on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to this day.
In the early 1970s, he was recruited by Baltimore mayor William Donald Schaeffer to revitalize and renovate the Lexington Market as well as other development opportunities in the CBD. Later, Mr. Pacy was hired by developer David Murdoch to plan, design, build, and market Harbor Court located on Light Street in the heart of Baltimore’s inner harbor.
He was always an active volunteer, serving with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, offering coaching assistance to dozens of teams over 50 years, and on several boards for the McDonogh School, the Baltimore Civic Opera, Provident Bank of Baltimore, and the Kennedy Institute.
His happiest days were spent coaching or salt-water sailing. After crewing with friends from Annapolis to New England and back, he bought a ketch and spent eight summers sailing it off the Maine coast with his wife and their crew – two dogs of uncertain lineage.
He moved to midcoast Maine in 2002, where he continued to sail and volunteer: he served on budget committees for the library and the town itself and delivered Meals on Wheels.
He is survived by his wife, Brooke Pacy; former wife and mother of his sons, Mary Rita Pacy; sons: John Pacy of Baltimore, Md., David Pacy of Thomasville, Penn., and Jeffrey Pacy of Washington, D.C.; and and five grandchildren.
Anyone wishing to honor Mr. Pacy with a contribution may send it in his name to the Medomak Valley Land Trust or the Waldoboro Food Pantry.