Carol Bliss

Long­time Bal­ti­more real es­tate man­ager was re­spected for her lead­er­ship and or­ga­ni­za­tional skills

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES - By Colin Camp­bell cm­camp­bell@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/cm­camp­bell6

Carol Bliss, a long­time Bal­ti­more real es­tate man­ager who opened the Long & Foster of­fice in Roland Park and men­tored many col­leagues in her 40-year ca­reer, died on Sept. 26 of com­pli­ca­tions from a stroke, her daugh­ter said. The Devon Hill res­i­dent was 75.

Mrs. Bliss was firm yet un­der­stand­ing, com­pet­i­tive but lev­el­headed, and al­ways fair — all of which com­bined to make her a suc­cess­ful man­ager who in­spired deep loy­alty from her real es­tate agents, for­mer col­leagues said.

“My mother al­ways be­lieved suc­cess­ful Real­tors were built on loy­alty,” said her daugh­ter, Kin­dall Rende of Home­land. “‘The house you sell to­day? You’re gonna sell it for them in seven years.’ ”

Mrs. Bliss had a keen sense of style and loved in­te­rior dec­o­rat­ing. As a child, she liked to knock on neigh­bors’ doors just to see in­side their homes, Mrs. Rende said.

Her tal­ent of build­ing and main­tain­ing strong re­la­tion­ships, both busi­ness and per­sonal, made her a force to be reck­oned with, friends and for­mer col­leagues said.

Joan Solomon, a co­worker and long­time friend who later opened the Long & Foster Roland Park of­fice with Mrs. Bliss in 2011, said the two started in the in­dus­try around the same time and bonded over a mu­tual love of fash­ion and trav­el­ing.

The pair be­came best friends who trav­eled to Paris, the south of France and the Baltic Sea, and va­ca­tioned in Re­hoboth Beach, Del., with their chil­dren each sum­mer.

“She with­out ques­tion was my men­tor,” Ms. Solomon said. “I watched her help peo­ple solve prob­lems, not just busi­ness, but per­sonal.”

Carol Lee Bowl­ing was born Oct. 7, 1940, in Bal­ti­more to He­len Brossecker Bowl­ing, a home­maker, and Au­gus­tine Bowl­ing, a founder of Lin­coln Litho­plates Inc.

The Bowl­ings moved from their home at Clift­mont and Erd­man av­enues in Be­lairEdi­son when she was young, and she was raised in Tow­son and grad­u­ated from Tow­son High School in 1959.

Mrs. Bliss briefly at­tended Sullins Col­lege in Bris­tol, Va., then en­rolled at the Fash­ion In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy in New York. She left there be­fore grad­u­at­ing, when she mar­ried Denny Bliss in 1963, Mrs. Rende said. The cou­ple di­vorced af­ter 11 years of mar­riage, but re­mained close un­til Mr. Bliss’ death in 2014, their daugh­ter said.

Mrs. Rende said her mother never once raised her voice. Mrs. Bliss’ coun­sel was nearly as in de­mand as po­si­tions on her real es­tate teams, she said.

“Peo­ple flocked to her like an or­a­cle,” Mrs. Rende said. “She was just where you went when you needed ad­vice.”

Mrs. Bliss viewed her­self and her col­leagues in the real es­tate pro­fes­sion as “cor­po­rate Amer­ica mis­fits,” her daugh­ter said. As a man­ager, she fo­cused on pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment — and even lent her ad­vice to com­peti­tors from time to time.

“She did noth­ing but grow and build peo­ple’s ca­reers,” Mrs. Rende said.

Bill Ma­gruder, a Long & Foster real es­tate agent who worked for Mrs. Bliss for more than 30 years, fol­lowed her from firm to firm.

“Un­der her tute­lage, we learned how to lis­ten, we learned how to ne­go­ti­ate, we learned how to prob­lem-solve,” Mr. Ma­gruder said. “Con­se­quently, we be­came suc­cess­ful real es­tate agents.”

Mrs. Bliss’ tal­ent as a su­per­vi­sor was most on dis­play when things went wrong, he said. When an agent made a mis­take, he said, she ad­dressed the em­ployee with warmth and hu­mor.

Jean Qu­at­tle­baum, gen­eral man­ager at Mon­u­ment Sotheby’s In­ter­na­tional Realty and a for­mer co­worker, said the two had a mu­tual men­tor­ship in more than 10 years of work­ing to­gether at O’Conor, Piper & Flynn, then later at Cold­well Banker Real Es­tate. Mrs. Bliss main­tained a bustling of­fice, with agents lin­ing up to work with her, she said. “She was one of the finest women I ever knew.”

Dur­ing the hous­ing boom, Mrs. Bliss de­manded that her real es­tate agents thor­oughly re­search the value of the homes they sold and, above all, deal hon­estly with clients, said John Evans, who owned O’Conor, Piper & Flynn.

“She was very pro­fes­sional and the other man­agers re­spected her so much for the fact that she had such a loy­alty and could be so open with the as­pects of run­ning the com­pany,” he said.

P. Wes­ley Foster Jr., founder and CEO of Long & Foster, hired her out of re­tire­ment to help launch his com­pany’s Roland Park lo­ca­tion, its first foray into the wealthy North Bal­ti­more en­clave.

“We wouldn’t have got­ten that Roland Park of­fice off the ground as well as we did with­out Carol help­ing us,” Mr. Foster said.

Michael Yer­man, co-founder of Yer­man Wit­man Gaines, said he quickly rec­og­nized Mrs. Bliss’ po­ten­tial for man­age­ment when she worked for him.

“Some­times you get a feel­ing from peo­ple,” he said, “and she just had it.”

Mrs. Bliss set high stan­dards for her agents, and in re­turn, she was a fierce ad­vo­cate on their be­half in talks with man­age­ment, Mr. Yer­man said.

“She was a great fighter for the agents,” he said. “That’s why peo­ple would go where she went.”

Mrs. Bliss was a mem­ber of the Greater Bal­ti­more Board of Real­tors and served on sev­eral of the as­so­ci­a­tion’s com­mit­tees, he said.

She was de­voted to her fam­ily, and once took her grand­daugh­ter to a Brit­ney Spears con­cert, Mrs. Rende said.

In ad­di­tion to her daugh­ter, Mrs. Bliss is sur­vived by a brother, Mar­shall Bowl­ing of Tow­son, four grand­chil­dren, a niece and a nephew.

A pri­vate ser­vice and in­ter­ment are planned. Carol Bliss opened the Long & Foster of­fice in Roland Park.

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