James Bacon, bank vice president

January 24, 1994|By Jim Haner | Jim Haner,Staff writer

James Webster Bacon, 72, a longtime resident of Cockeysville who worked his way up from foot messenger to vice president of Union Trust Bank, died Thursday at his home after a long battle with stomach and colon cancer.

The father of two had recently celebrated his 51st wedding anniversary with his wife, Elizabeth Howard Bacon, 71.

A one-time standout in lacrosse and tennis at Towson High School, Mr. Bacon was a familiar sight on sporting fields throughout his life -- from Baltimore Colts and Orioles games to contests at St. Paul's School and Dulaney High School, where his children and grandchildren followed in his footsteps to play baseball, lacrosse and field hockey.

After graduating from high school in 1939, the son of Scotch-Irish immigrants took a job as a messenger for the main office of Union Trust Bank, hand-delivering vouchers and notes between

branch offices in Baltimore.

When World War II broke out, he enlisted in the Army, serving in the 323rd Infantry's 81st "Wildcat" Division in the Pacific as a radioman and earning the Combat Infantry Badge.

The last thing he did before he left was marry his boyhood sweetheart in a ceremony at Camp Rucker near Dothan, Ala.

"I think it's hard for us to remember today what 1942 was like," said the couple's daughter, Beth Smith, 49. "Mother was just 19, and she got on a war train to Alabama that was just packed and jammed with people. They were married by an Army chaplain, and they were only together for two or three nights before she had to come home and he had to ship out.

"They never knew if they would see each other again."

Mr. Bacon's unit was thrown into the fighting on the islands around Japan and was among the first to march onto the mainland at the close of the war.

After the war, Mr. Bacon picked up where he had left off, rejoining Union Trust Bank and beginning his climb up the corporate ladder. By 1959, the bank had entrusted him with the mission of carving out a new territory in the sprawling countryside of a farm town called Timonium.

"It was the first venture of a major city bank into north Baltimore County," said Dr. Nicholas Lykos, recalling the day when Mr. Bacon came to town to open a branch office of Union Trust in an old tavern at York and Timonium roads near the Lykos family pharmacy.

"It was a residential and farming community back then, and it was getting ready to just grow like crazy," Dr. Lykos said. "And he was the one guy who kept track of everything and knew exactly what was going to happen. It was his town. He had grown up there. We all counted on him to keep us informed, and he did."

Mr. Bacon was a member of the Timonium Chamber of Commerce and joined the Towson Chamber of Commerce after going there to open another branch office of Union Trust, which later became Signet Bank.

Active in various banking associations, he also served in the Cockeysville Lions Club and Metro Crime Stoppers.

And when the marching bands streamed through Towson on the Fourth of July every year, Mr. Bacon was in the background helping organize the festivities.

Christened at Hunt's Memorial United Methodist Church in Riderwood, he sang in its choir as a boy and served as its treasurer when he was grown.

"He was very much a traditional gentleman," his daughter said. "He had a code of conduct and sense of honor and chivalry that you don't see much of these days. All his life, he remained true to his town, his church, his bank and his family."

Funeral services are to be held today at 11 a.m. at Hunt's Church in Riderwood, 1901 W. Joppa Road, with interment tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Jessops Cemetery in Cockeysville.

Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the church.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Bacon is survived by a son, Robert Bacon, and three grandchildren. All the survivors live in Timonium or Cockeysville.

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