John Redwood Jr., banker, dies at 93

January 01, 1994|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Staff Writer

John Redwood Jr., an investment banker, world traveler and lifelong devotee of his alma mater, the Gilman School, died of pneumonia Wednesday at Union Memorial Hospital. He was 93.

Services for Mr. Redwood, a former partner with the firm of Ferris, Baker Watts Inc., were set for 3 p.m. today at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 1401 Carrollton Ave., Baltimore.

Active throughout his life in civic and charitable work, Mr. Redwood was remembered by associates for his keen mind, excellent memory and strong interest in history and the English language.

He was a prolific writer of letters to the editor, a tireless promoter of mass transit as a member of the Greater Baltimore Committee, and a fund-raiser for the Community Chest, a forerunner of the United Way, as well as an officer in various investment banking and stock brokerage organizations.

He loved to travel, especially by train or ship.

Friends said that last January he took a cruise to the West Coast through the Panama Canal, and returned to the East by train. Last month he flew to Buenos Aires and came home by ship.

In 1972, he and his wife took a five-month around-the-world trip aboard a Chinese cargo freighter.

Mr. Redwood was first cousin of 1st Lt. George Buchanan Redwood, the first officer from Maryland killed in World War I. In honor of Lieutenant Redwood, the Baltimore City Council

changed the name of German Street in the heart of the city's downtown financial district to Redwood Street.

During World War II, Mr. Redwood headed Baltimore's Victory Fund Committee, which helped raise money needed to finance the war.

"He was interested in history, particularly that of Baker, Watts and Co., the Gilman School, the Northern Central Railroad, and the village of Ruxton, and the Sunpapers often called him about the latter two," said Joseph "Bro" Tubman, a longtime associate of Mr. Redwood's and now managing director of Ferris, Baker Watts.

Over the years, Mr. Redwood peppered the letters to the editor columns of The Sun and The Evening Sun, criticizing the newspapers' attacks on a Watergate-embattled President Richard M. Nixon, defending a gas tax increase sought by Gov. Marvin Mandel to cover mass transit costs, and frequently complaining of the poor grammar demonstrated by reporters and editorial writers.

"If editors do not use good grammar, how can we expect news reporters to do any better? I despair," he wrote in 1982 after an editorial used the word "who" instead of "whom."

In January 1974, Mr. Redwood, a Republican, complained of the "relentless and vitriolic warfare" waged by the news media against President Nixon, decrying the "innuendo and personal opinion" he said had crept into the stories by political reporters.

"Has the day gone altogether when we can hope for objective reporting and the exercise of fair play by the media?" he asked.

Mr. Tubman praised Mr. Redwood for his "impeccable integrity," adding that "He was thoughtful of others and very generous to charities."

He described Mr. Redwood as physically active, saying he drove his own car long distances until shortly before his death.

Born in Ruxton on Oct. 11, 1900, Mr. Redwood graduated from Gilman in 1917, then tutored math at the school for a year after graduation.

After leaving the school, he worked for the Baltimore Drydock and Shipbuilding Co. from 1918 to 1921 as a clerk in the payroll and estimating departments.

During that time, he also attended night business school at the YMCA, the American Institute of Banking and Johns Hopkins University.

In 1922, he was hired as a securities salesman for Baker, Watts and Co., and became a general partner in 1929, a position he held until his retirement 40 years later.

He remained a limited partner from 1970 through 1987, the year before the company merged to become Ferris, Baker Watts.

Throughout his long career in Baltimore, Mr. Redwood remained involved in the activities of Gilman, a 96-year-old private school at Roland Avenue and Northern Parkway.

"He was a graduate and knew every headmaster but the first three," said Archibald Montgomery, the school's headmaster for the past two years. "He was a loyal fixture at alumni banquets and any Gilman function. He was just as sharp as he could be right up to his death. He never repeated himself, and was a walking encyclopedia about the Gilman School."

Mr. Montgomery said he believed Mr. Redwood was "our oldest living alumnus, or certainly our oldest living active alumnus."

His associates remembered him as a cordial man of warm humor who loved to vacation each summer with his family in Cape Cod.

Mr. Redwood was married three times: to Alice Elizabeth Downing in 1930, who died in 1963; to Elizabeth Newson McKenrick in 1964, who died in 1972; and to Deborah Dixon Fenimore in 1974, who died in 1990.

He is survived by two sons, John Redwood III of McLean, Va., and James D. Redwood of Albany, N.Y.; four stepdaughters, Elizabeth Winstead, Ann Wase, Alice Horst and Frances Colston, all of Baltimore; a sister, Catherine Middleton of Centreville; three grandchildren; 12 step-grandchildren; and three step-great-grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to the Gilman School or the Church of the Good Shepherd.

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