William S. Stair, civic leader and laundry owner

April 18, 1994

William S. Stair, who was active in Masonic and community affairs, worked as a fund-raiser and operated one of the largest commercial laundries in the Middle Atlantic region, died Friday of cancer at his home in Catonsville. He was 84.

He served as chairman of the Shrine Circus for 47 years and because of his chairmanship was known as Mr. Circus. A 33rd degree Mason, he served as chairman of the Maryland Scottish Rite Foundation, which aids children with language disorders. He was also a trustee of the Boumi Temple.

He was a member of the board of St. Agnes Hospital for more than 40 years and started the St. Agnes Golf Classic. He raised more than $1 million for the hospital.

He also served as chairman of the Annual Interfaith Baseball Game and organized Buddies Night for the Police Youth Clubs.

"No accolades could equal his accomplishments," said Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who last spoke to his longtime friend Thursday afternoon.

"His name will always be inscribed in bold print in the hearts of thousands of children for whom he lovingly provided a better life. fTC He was an inspirational and motivational personality," Mr. Schaefer said.

Louis J. Grasmick Jr., a Baltimore businessman and friend, said, "For more than 30 years I've been privileged to be Bill's friend, and what a privilege it was. He was a jewel of a person and one of the great individuals that God puts on this Earth."

Eddy Arnold, the singer, said in a telephone interview from Hershey, Pa., where he is performing: "I knew him through his work with the Shriners. He did everything for everybody -- he was just a dear man."

Mr. Stair was named by the Baltimore Jaycees in 1974 as the Man of the Year for his contributions to humanitarian causes and in 1986 was the Catonsville Citizen of the Year.

He also was the Port of Baltimore Man of the Year for his service to the port.

He was born and raised in New York City and came to Baltimor in 1938 as a salesman for Wyandotte Chemical Corp.

In 1946, he purchased the Up-To-Date Laundry on Frederick Road and turned it into one of the largest regional laundries serving major institutions in Maryland, Washington and Pennsylvania, as well as ships calling in the port.

An avid golfer, he was a member of the Rolling Road Golf Club and the Boumi Golf Club.

He was a member of Palestine Lodge No. 189, the Maritime Square Club, Propeller Club, West Baltimore Business Association, the YMCA and Salem Lutheran Church.

His wife of 55 years, the former Lucille Hybbuth of New York City, died in 1992.

Services are set for 1 p.m. today at the Scottish Rite Temple, 39th and North Charles streets, with interment in Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.

He is survived by a son, William S. Stair Jr. of Arizona; a daughter, Nancy Compton of West Virginia; and three grandchildren.

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