Edward M. Passano Sr., 93, Waverly Press president

July 05, 1998|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

For Edward Magruder "Ned" Passano Sr., there was no sound sweeter than that of a printing press operating at full speed or smell more heavenly than that of printer's ink.

Mr. Passano, former president of Waverly Press Inc., the venerable Baltimore printing and publishing company that specialized in medical texts and journals, died Tuesday from complications of a stroke at his Guilford residence. He was 93.

Born and raised in Towson, Mr. Passano was a graduate of the Marsden School. He joined the publishing firm in 1927 after earning a bachelor's degree in economics at the Johns Hopkins University.

Mr. Passano worked at a variety of jobs in the printing plant before being promoted to vice president for manufacturing. He was named Waverly's president in 1950 and held that position until 1971, when he was succeeded by his nephew, William M. Passano Jr. He remained a member of the company's board until his death.

Waverly Press had its origins in a small printing shop established in 1890 by John H. Williams at 6 S. Calvert St.

Mr. Passano's father, Edward B. Passano, joined the firm in 1897. In 1924, he created a second corporation, Williams and Wilkins Co., which was devoted to publishing medical and scientific works. He turned over the businesses to his sons Edward and William M. Passano Sr. shortly before his death in 1946.

Waverly was acquired this year by Wolters Kluwer NV, a Dutch company, and is now part of a new company, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins based in Philadelphia.

A familiar figure with his trademark bow tie, rolled-up sleeves and finely clipped mustache, Mr. Passano was not content to sit behind a desk in his office.

He often amazed his employees by pushing skids of paper with a hand truck, operating a folding machine in the bindery or engaging in animated conversations with pressmen.

"He had printer's ink in his blood and loved listening to the steady rhythm of the presses," said his son, E. Magruder Passano Jr. of Baltimore, Waverly's vice chairman and secretary. "He appreciated fine printing, paper and typography."

When Waverly built a new printing plant in Easton in 1949, Mr. Passano was on site not only to oversee the work but join in the construction.

"He was definitely hands-on. He was helping hang steel and drive nails and could keep up with the best of them. He wasn't content to simply be a bystander," the son said.

Well-liked by employees for his easygoing demeanor and jovial laugh, he was also respected for his hiring and promotion of minorities and the disabled.

"As a boss, he was extremely fair-minded. I'm a black female, and this was one of the first companies I worked for where I didn't experience racism or anti-feminism," said Audrey Dyson, who joined the company in 1971.

Mr. Passano was known as a fast driver, and it was not uncommon for him to swing behind the wheel of a company truck to make a delivery to or from the Easton printing plant.

"He still holds the record for driving from Baltimore to Easton in 58 minutes. We called him the Stirling Moss of Waverly Press," said Edward B. "Ted" Hutton, Waverly's president and now Lippincott Williams & Wilkins' chief executive, laughing.

A devotee of Mount Gay rum and uncertain that a host would have his favorite beverage on hand, he resorted to carrying a supply in a yellow Joy liquid soap bottle.

"Rather than carry an expensive fancy silver flask, Ned was perfectly content with his Joy bottle in his breast pocket," Mr. Hutton said. "He was certainly a man who loved and enjoyed life."

A noted philatelist, Mr. Passano made substantial donations of mint stamps to Johns Hopkins. He also enjoyed collecting and reciting the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.

Mr. Passano also maintained Dun Printin, an Eastern Shore home on the banks of the Tred Avon River, and a condominium in Dutch St. Martin.

He was a member of the Sons of the Revolution, Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, Society of Colonial Wars and the American Clan Gregor Society.

He was married in 1929 to Mildred Page Nelson, who died in 1981.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of the Incarnation, East University Parkway and St. Paul Street.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife of 16 years, the former Mary Troy Fleming; two stepsons, Dominic Fleming and David Fleming, and three stepdaughters, Letitia Moore, Donna Hines and Dorothy Sheppard, all of Baltimore; and three granddaughters.

Pub Date: 7/05/98

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