Softball 01

John Ainsworth Cress

August 26, 1941 ~ August 21, 2019 (age 77)


John Ainsworth Cress, 77, of Ellicott City died Wednesday, August 21, 2019.  Born in Baltimore, MD, he was the son of the late Nicholas Phillip Cress and Hilda Virginia Cress. He grew up in a row house in Northeast Baltimore across from Herring Run Park.  He always said he had the best of both worlds with sports and exploring in the park, and tons of kids to play with in the neighborhood. He wrote dozens of stories about neighborhood adventures, which he shared with family and friends.

John was educated by the Baltimore public school system.  After graduating from Polytechnic Institute, he worked briefly at Martin Marietta Company in Middle River and then attended the University of Maryland where he earned a BS in Industrial Engineering in 1966.  During the summers, he worked at the Corps of Engineers in Baltimore on flood control projects.

After graduation he was offered a number of jobs, but chose to work at Armco Steel, in Baltimore. He joined the Army Reserves and served six years obtaining the rank of sergeant, honorably discharged in 1972. 

In 1968 he took a job with IBM as a systems engineer. After intense training, he installed many of the early mainframe (System 360s) in the Baltimore region.  At the time, there were hundreds of local organizations that benefited from implementing these systems. As a systems engineer he did whatever was required to get customers going. This included training, programming, debugging and at times even operating. Eventually he moved into sales at IBM and then into several management jobs in the Washington area. During this time, he also attended night classes at George Washington University and obtained a master’s degree in business in 1974.

After 25 years he took a buyout and departed IBM. Still only 51 with a young family, he started a software sales and consulting business - Little Blue Software Consultants. He hired several of his colleagues from IBM, and after a challenging start, they became a valuable IBM Business partner.  Although a small company, they were chosen one year as IBM’s top software partner. Some of the customers included Verizon, State of Maryland, and Geico. Because of their success, IBM asked them to conduct software seminars in other cities like Chicago, St. Louis and Omaha, which generated additional sales.  John also taught night classes in systems programming at his Alma matter, University of Maryland, College Park, as well as other local colleges.

John was a gifted athlete who enjoyed running, tennis, cycling and baseball.  He participated in senior softball as a player and assistant coach into his 70’s.  While always an avid runner, he had never considered a marathon.  When one of his sons challenged him to do one with him, he quickly accepted the challenge and completed the Marine Core Marathon at 60 years old.  He also cycled across Maryland, as well as the entire C&O canal with his sons.     

While still in college John met the love of his life Mary Jo at a mixer dance.   Over the 54 years of marriage, he said marrying her was the best decision he ever made.  

John is survived by his devoted wife, Mary Jo Cress; his two sons Stephen (Demet) and Mark (Amy); two sisters, Carolyn Schneider and Helen Stine (Charlie); and five grandchildren, Eva, Nathan, Stevie Jo, Amelia and Colin. Also survived by many loving family and friends. 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Lymphoma Research Foundation, Wall Street Plaza, 88 Pine Street, Suite 2400, NY, NY 10005, or a charity of your choice

To send flowers to John's family, please visit our floral section.


August 29, 2019

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Harry H. Witzke's Family Funeral Home
4112 Old Columbia Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21043

Memorial Mass
August 30, 2019

10:00 AM
Church of the Resurrection
3175 Paulskirk Drive
Ellicott City, MD 21042


Lymphoma Research Foundation
Wall Street Plaza, 88 Pine Street, Suite 2400, New York NY 10005
Tel: 1-212-349-2910

Charity of Your Choice

© 2020 Harry H. Witzke's Family Funeral Home. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS