Andrew Colletta, real estate agent and ambassador for Baltimore's … – Baltimore Sun

Andrew Colletta, an ambassador for Baltimore neighborhoods who sold homes, died of congestive heart failure Feb. 3 at Gilchrist Center Towson. The Reservoir Hill resident was 72.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Grindon Avenue, he was the son of Camillo “Ted” Colletta, a Social Security administrator, and Helen Zelznok, a homemaker and former milliner. He attended St. Dominic School and was a 1968 graduate of Archbishop Curley High School. He earned a degree at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Andrew Colletta had an ability to give directions like a “human GPS.”
In 1964 he was among the school children injured at the old Memorial Stadium in an elevator accident. The moving stairs became overcrowded when the students were unable to step off due to a misplaced barrier blocking their way.
He became a travel counselor for the Maryland Automobile Association of America and planned itineraries.
“As a high school student, he read airline schedules at lunch,” said a longtime friend, Richard Messick. “Not the public schedules, the ones the ticket agents used. He traveled widely and was in Prague in 1989 as the regime changed,” he said referring to the anti-communist Velvet Revolution.
“Andrew loved working at AAA because it tied into his knowledge of geography and love of travel,” said friend Dan Prives. “The job itself didn’t pay enough. He eventually left it but he retained a lifelong ability to get you where you needed to be.”
Mr. Prives said, “Andrew was empathetic and could engage people in a conversation within minutes.”
Mr. Colletta went on to became a zoning examiner for the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development. He immersed himself in the technicalities of his office and was considered an expert in the field.
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“You could go to the bank with his knowledge,” said colleague Randee Askin.
He later got his real estate license and sold residential properties throughout Baltimore. He worked for O’Conor, Piper and Flynn and other firms and retired about 20 years ago.
“Andrew taught me a lot and he was truly engaged in the history, fabric and architecture of Baltimore. He always had a smile and added so much fun to whatever he was doing,” said Cynthia “Cindy” Conklin, a friend, who described his ability to give directions as like a “human GPS.”
“Andrew was extremely knowledgeable about city neighborhoods and older homes. He was an excellent resource for issues pertaining to zoning,” said William “Bill” Magruder, a real estate colleague.
“Andrew enjoyed introducing people to his beloved Reservoir Hill neighborhood,” said Mr. Magruder. “He had a colorful sense of humor and it was always pleasure to have a transaction with him.”
J. Carroll “Jake” Boone, a fellow real estate agent, said, “Andrew was a perfect gentleman who loved old Baltimore. He was a top-drawer professional here for years.”
Mr. Messick said Mr. Colletta liked to promote neighborhoods that were undervalued and up-and-coming.
In a 1990 Sun story, Mr. Colletta observed that roomy homes remained a bargain along Madison Avenue and Eutaw Place. He said that three floors, six bedrooms and three bathrooms were half the price of neighboring Bolton Hill.
“Andrew was an early advocate of recycling and repurposing before it was a thing,” said his real estate colleague and friend, Randee Askin. “He had an ability to match items that friends needed with items that others wanted to give away.”
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Ms. Askin also said, “Andrew never forgot a birthday. He had a varied collection of vintage postcards with scenes of old Baltimore. He was a true original and one of the dearest, most generous of heart people I’ve ever known.”
Friends said Mr. Colletta occasionally displayed a sarcastic sense of humor.
When the light rail opened in 1992, Mr. Colletta was among those who rode the system on its opening day.
“It’s the continuing saga of the Disney-fication of Baltimore,” he told a Sun reporter. But he also said, “Anything that makes the metropolitan area more cohesive, to get people to their jobs and fully integrate the transit system, makes any region work better.”
Mr. Colletta believed in historic preservation.
Baltimore Heritage Executive Director Johns Hopkins said, “Andrew was the heart of Baltimore Heritage for years and years, and it was a perfect fit. At the Hopkins Fair, the Book Festival, Flower Mart, he would spend an entire weekend talking to people about the Baltimore he loved, block by block, house by house.”
Mr. Hopkins also said, “Andrew would talk to anyone. We would go out to have a cup of coffee and he would start taking to people at the next table. No matter what the subject he was knowledgeable. He was perceived as smart and non-threatening which made people comfortable to engage with him.”
Regina Minniss, a former co-worker, said, “People loved talking to Andrew, and I think it was because Andrew loved listening to people, talking to people, just being around people. I never knew anybody who had so many friends and from so many different backgrounds.”
Friends said Mr. Colletta enjoyed good food. He was the subject of a 1981 Sun article that detailed his recipes for a New Year’s supper that included hot Asian noodles with garlic and ginger.
Survivors include nieces and nephews. His life partner, Paul Britt, died in 2011.
A life celebration will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 24 at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 1900 Saint Paul St.
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