Henry Corbin

CORBIN, HENRY, a real estate developer who built several Annapolis neighborhoods, died Thursday at his home in Eason. He was 88. Mr. Corbin, known to his friends as Hank, moved to Easton in 1976 from Annapolis. Over the next 25 years or so, he built more than 800 homes in the Easton area. Born in the New York City suburb of Larchmont to Joe and Ethel Guntzburger in 1925, Hank moved to New York City with his mother and his younger brother, Alfred, after Ethel and her husband separated in 1931. While working in New York, Ethel met a young architect named Will H. Corbin. They married in 1940. Two years later Will Corbin adopted the boys. With the United States deep in World War II, Hank joined the U.S. Navy in 1943 after graduating from high school. He became a submariner on the USS Bashaw, mostly while the boat was at Mare Island, CA, for an overhaul. He served on one Pacific patrol on the Bashaw before the war ended. He left the Navy in 1946. While he was serving in the Navy, Hank's mother and stepfather moved to Annapolis, where Will Corbin established himself as an architect and builder (Will remodeled the Maryland Inn in the 1950s.) After Hank returned from the Navy, he attended the University of Maryland, studying business administration for a couple of years before college bored him. Hank decided he was smart enough to figure out business himself, and he became a salesman, a pursuit he quickly discovered suited him well. Hank's first sales job was selling new Packard automobiles at a College Park dealership. He moved on to storm windows, and then kitchen cabinets and other home construction materials. That led him to a Rockville real estate broker, where he sold tract homes in the burgeoning Washington suburbs and launched the career in which he'd spend the rest of his life. Later, he opened his own real estate brokerage, in Silver Spring, and that segued into developing single-family houses. (He tried other real estate endeavors over the years, but he always returned to houses.) His first development was in Annapolis, where he worked with his stepfather on neighborhoods including Rolling Hills and Rolling Knolls. He was a swinging Washington bachelor in the '50s, living a high life of good-looking women, luxury convertibles and dry martinis. That lasted until he met a West Virginian named Kathryn Burgess, who was not only pretty but also smarter than Hank. When he failed to deliver a marriage proposal in timely fashion, Kathy headed out to see the world. She wrote him a letter that mentioned a handsome bullfighter named Carlos. Hank caved, reached her in Spain and begged her to come back. They were married on Aug. 8, 1964, a date Hank always remembered for its mathematical simplicity: 8 X 8 = 64. Hank loved big toys, especially boats and aircraft. From the time he and his family he and Kathy quickly had a son, and then a pair of twin boys moved to Annapolis, he always had big boats, yachts as long as 60 feet. (He may have enjoyed wheeling and dealing for the boats as much as he enjoyed using them. He was still regularly checking the boat ads until not long before his death, even though he was confined to a wheelchair.) He was also a tyrannical captain, shouting his displeasure in no uncertain terms from the bridge while some hapless relative tried to secure the boat to a dock. Afterward, he would laugh about it. He also loved flying. He owned a succession of small fixed-wing planes (the first was a 1940 Taylorcraft) until he discovered helicopters, which became his passion. His favorite was a Hughes 500; he owned one that looked like the helicopter featured in the TV show "Magnum P.I." When his real estate business was straddling the Chesapeake Bay between Annapolis and Easton, he beat the Bay Bridge traffic by commuting by helicopter. Hank was a member of the Rotary Club in Annapolis and Easton and of the Miles River Yacht Club. Hank's survivors include his wife, Kathryn; his son Will and wife Jib, of Gaithersburg, and their children, Natan and Alyssa; his twin sons, Boyd of Fort Lauderdale, FL, and Brett of San Diego, CA; his brother, Alfred, of Fort Walton Beach, FL; and many nieces and nephews. Hank insisted that no event accompany his passing, no commemoration or party. He even threatened a pal: You put on something when I croak, and I'll come back to haunt you. His family has decided to brave the risk and hope Hank's friends will join them to share refreshments and memories on Sunday, Nov. 17, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Miles River Yacht Club in St. Michael's. Memories may also be/ shared at the website of Ostrowski Funeral Home, www.ostrowskifh.com.

Funeral Home

Ostrowski Funeral Home
312 S Talbot St Saint Michaels, MD 21663
(410) 745-5021

Published in The Capital on Nov. 10, 2013