By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun
5:22 PM EDT, March 29, 2013
Philip X. "Phil" Kaltenbach, a former high school English teacher who later became an expert in the field of collectible comic books, died Tuesday at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Fla., while recovering from foot surgery. He was 63.
The son of a Loyola University Maryland dean and a Loyola Blakefield High School administrative assistant, Philip Xavier Kaltenbach was born in Baltimore and raised in Towson.
Mr. Kaltenbach was a 1967 graduate of Loyola Blakefield and earned a bachelor's degree from what is now Loyola University Maryland. He also earned a master's degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
During the 1980s, Mr. Kaltenbach taught English literature at Loyola Blakefield, and then joined the faculty of Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn, where he was an English teacher.
After moving from Maryland to North Carolina in 1987 and then to New Jersey, Mr. Kaltenbach tried his hand at real estate and income tax preparation, in addition to teaching occasionally.
In 2001, he went to work in New Jersey for the Certified Guaranty Co., where he inspected, evaluated and assigned a grade based on the condition of collectible comic books, which had been a hobby for more than 40 years.
When the company moved to Sarasota about a decade ago, Mr. Kaltenbach also made the transfer. He later left CGC and established his own business selling comics and other collectibles. He eventually returned on a part-time basis to his former company, where he was working at the time of his death.
Mr. Kaltenbach was a fan of rock music and film.
"He was also a rabid and, sometimes admittedly, indiscriminate movie watcher; a logbook in which he assiduously noted every film he watched contained well over 700 entries for 2011," said a brother, Chris Kaltenbach of Linthicum, who is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun.
Mr. Kaltenbach, who had lived in Towson and Ellicott City, returned to Baltimore often. His visits invariably included a Saturday-night poker game with a group of friends from high school.
"He was the kindest, funniest and most intelligent person I ever met," said Robert W. Hughes, a former Associated Press reporter who is now a Baltimore County library spokesman.
"While his wit was cunningly clever. It was always situational and never aimed at hurting an individual. In the 52 years we knew each other, I never heard him say an unkind word to anyone else and never heard anyone say a bad word about him," said Mr. Hughes. "That has to be some kind of a world's record."
"Phil's opinions were wide-ranging and, invariably, well-defended," said his brother. "He had an opinion on almost everything, from the guitar on Blue Oyster Cult's '(Don't Fear) The Reaper' to the narrative structure of 'Apocalypse Now' to the latest credit-card commercials on television.
"He helped instill in me an early and lasting love for comic books, the Orioles, pinball and, especially, the Rolling Stones that pointed me toward a career in writing about popular culture," said Mr. Kaltenbach.
A visitation will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home, 6500 York Road, Rodgers Forge.
In addition to his brother, Mr. Kaltenbach is survived by his son, Philip Xavier Kaltenbach Merrick of Florham Park, N.J.; and another brother, Thomas H. Kaltenbach of Fallston. A marriage to Doris Merrick ended in divorce.
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