Joseph P. Pons Sr., 83, patriarch of the family that owns Maryland's oldest commercial thoroughbred breeding farm, died Oct. 12 at his home in Bel Air, Md., after a heart attack.
Mr. Pons presided over an annual Preakness party at Country Life Farm, where he lived with his wife and four of their five children.
Some of the notable thoroughbreds from the farm include Cigar, the 1995 and 1996 Horse of the Year and North America's all-time money leader at $9,999,815; Carry Back, the 1961 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner; Allen's Prospect, five-time national leader by number of wins; and Malibu Moon, sire of 2004 champion 2-year-old Declan's Moon.
Mr. Pons was born in Garden City, N.Y., the son of Adolphe Pons, a horseman and adviser to New York subway system financier August Belmont II. The elder Mr. Pons founded Country Life Farm in 1933 and moved his family there.
Joseph served in an Army cavalry unit during World War II and obtained a degree in economics from University of Notre Dame after the war.
When Adolphe Pons died in 1951, Mr. Pons ran the family's commercial thoroughbred operation with his older brother for nearly 50 years. His older brother, John Pons, died in 1996.
Mr. Pons, who battled alcoholism during the 1970s, later devoted Saturday mornings to helping inmates at the Harford County Detention Center. He was credited with starting a support group and counseling program for alcoholic inmates in the jail and with starting another program at the old Fallston General Hospital. He also held weekly support meetings for motorists convicted of driving while intoxicated.
Survivors include his wife of 55 years, the former Mary Jo Ryan; five children; and six grandchildren.