Standish McCleary Jr., a retired senior vice president of Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. who had a 73-year career at the Baltimore investment firm, died Thursday of congestive heart failure at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Berlin. He was 91 and lived in Key Biscayne, Fla., and in Ocean City.
Mr. McCleary was known for tenacity and common sense during his years with Legg Mason and its predecessor firms.
He retired June 8 after a series of ailments.
Forty years ago, when people commonly traveled into Baltimore to see their broker, his vision led him to recommend that Legg & Co. open an office in the rapidly expanding suburbs. The firm opened one in Pikesville, where he was resident partner.
"We brought Wall Street to Main Street," said Leonard Greenebaum, a Legg Mason vice president and colleague for 43 years.
Gerald Scheinker, Mr. McCleary's broker partner for the past 2 1/2 years, described him as an astute reader of the stock market with a vision of careful investment.
"Every Thursday for years, he would give a report on the stock market over the intercom," Mr. Scheinker said. "He would give his opinion on what stocks he liked."
More than 1,000 employees companywide hung on Mr. McCleary's every word, he said.
In recent years, those reports became monthly as Mr. McCleary traveled once a month to Baltimore and Pikesville from Key Biscayne, where he moved in the mid-1970s, and from Ocean City, where he spent the warmer months.
His investment expertise was in undervalued stocks.
"His strength was value stocks," Mr. Scheinker said. "He looked to buy stocks that were out of favor, that for some glitch weren't so high. He'd buy them and he'd sit on them" until they improved.
"He was good at helping young brokers to succeed and teaching them how to manage portfolios and how to look out for the client's best interest," Mr. Scheinker said.
Mr. McCleary was born in Baltimore. As a youth, he was entranced by his father's dabbling in the market and bought his first stocks while attending City College. He skipped college to become a "board boy" at Mackubin, Goodrich and Co., writing stock prices on a chalkboard, and worked his way into a broker's position.
He became a full-time broker in 1936. To support his growing family, he loaded freight cars at night until 1941, when he bought a small Baltimore County farm to supplement his income while the market recovered from the Depression.
In 1970, the Mackubin firm, which by then had become Legg & Co., merged with Mason & Co. In 1973, Legg Mason & Co. acquired Wood Walker & Co. just before the market soured.
Mr. McCleary and Kenneth S. Battye, another large broker-shareholder, threatened to pull more than $1 million they had lent the firm unless changes were made.
"They were losing money and they didn't know what to do about it," Mr. Battye said in a 1999 Sun article.
Mr. McCleary and Mr. Battye told Raymond A. "Chip" Mason, who is still chairman and chief executive officer, that they wanted him to run the company. At the time, Mr. McCleary was one the company's largest shareholders.
A daughter, Rose McCleary Alexander of Richmond, Va., said her father taught his family self-reliance. He did the maintenance on his Roland Park home when feasible.
"He tried to instill an ethic of careful spending, because the money that was spent now could not earn money for you later," she said.
Mr. McCleary regularly read dozens of newspapers, magazines and business publications, and recalled salient details with such precision that people thought he was reading a report when he was reciting from memory.
For relaxation, he enjoyed ocean fishing, especially for sea bass, and swimming.
In 1980, he rescued a West Virginia woman who was in trouble while swimming in the Atlantic near Ocean City, said another daughter, Ann McCleary Stewart of Crownsville. The woman and her husband visited him on trips to Ocean City, and every year sent him flowers on his birthday, Mrs. Stewart said.
Services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. David's Episcopal Church, Roland Avenue and Oakdale Road.
He also is survived by his wife of 68 years, Juanita Proctor McCleary; two other daughters, Isabel McCleary Carter of Winston-Salem, N.C., and Joanna McCleary Pitcher of Arlington, Va.; a son, Standish McCleary III of Portland, Ore.; 17 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.