William M. Dugdale, 84, advertising executive

November 02, 1999|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

William M. Dugdale, a retired account manager and vice chairman of VanSant Dugdale & Co. Inc., once Baltimore's largest advertising agency, died Thursday of cancer at Union Memorial Hospital. He was 84 and lived at Elkridge Estates.

The former longtime Roland Park resident worked for 35 years at VanSant Dugdale, which his father, H. Kirkus Dugdale, co-founded with Wilbur VanSant in 1925.

The agency -- which had such blue-chip clients as Martin-Marietta, United States Fidelity & Guaranty, Maryland National Bank, Davison Chemical Company Division of W. R. Grace & Co., Allegheny Airlines, and Baltimore Paint and Chemical Corp. -- was on West Fayette Street until it moved into the Blaustein Building on North Charles Street in the early 1960s.

Since 1976, the agency, which is now known as Gray Kirk VanSant, has been in the World Trade Center.

Gifted with a gregarious personality, his genuine liking for people put Mr. Dugdale in good stead because he was responsible for developing new business and clients.

"He was the administrative type who made no pretense about being a creative guy," said Gilbert Sandler, longtime Baltimore advertising and public relations executive and founder of Sandler & Associates.

"He maintained the great tradition of VanSant being a moral compass in the type of advertising they accepted. They wouldn't take just any account," he said yesterday.

"Old Mr. VanSant had been a stern Methodist and for years refused the Crosse & Blackwell account for its eggnog because it contained alcohol. The agency really had a reputation as a watchdog, and he was part of that. He was a community-minded man of great integrity and probity," Mr. Sandler said.

"It really was the first home-grown advertising agency in Baltimore and, in spite of being on the cutting edge, was run as a traditional family-style business," said J. Stanley Heuisler, former editor of Baltimore magazine, who had worked at the agency.

"Bill was so smooth at getting clients in the door. His style really came from the agency's founders," he said.

"He was the kind of man who could enter a room filled with strangers, and because he was a happy man with a natural gregariousness, would know everyone there within a half-hour," said Daniel J. Loden, who retired as chairman of VanSant Dugdale in 1979.

"He was a skillful salesperson who could meet people and get their business," he said.

Mr. Dugdale retired in 1971.

The Washington native graduated from McDonogh School in 1933 and attended Haverford College. He graduated in 1938 from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1940, he entered the Naval Reserve as an apprentice seaman, was commissioned from the ranks and served on an attack transport during World War II in the European and Pacific theaters. He was discharged as a lieutenant commander in 1945.

He served on several boards, including the Red Cross, Fellowship of Lights, Travelers Aid Society, Union Memorial Hospital, the National Marine Bank, the Savings Bank of Baltimore and the Bank of Baltimore. He was board president for the Chesapeake Foundation for Human Development.

Mr. Dugdale's lifetime hobby was music; he was an accomplished pianist.

He was a former member of the Baltimore Country Club, L'Hirondelle Club and the Elkridge Club, and enjoyed golf and gardening.

A memorial service was held yesterday at Episcopal Church of the Redeemer.

Mr. Dugdale is survived by his wife of 57 years, the former Barbara Barton; three sons, David B. Dugdale of Naples, Fla., William K. Dugdale of Baltimore and Robert K. Dugdale of Atlanta; a brother, H. K. "Doug" Dugdale Jr. of Wilmington, Del.; and six grandchildren.

Sun staff writer Erika Niedowski contributed to this article.

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