Bedford Chapin, 77, founded brokerage

September 06, 2001|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Bedford Chapin, a founder of the Baltimore brokerage firm of Chapin, Davis & Co. Inc. and longtime benefactor of St. Paul's School, died Monday of pancreatic cancer at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. He was 77 and lived in Ruxton.

Mr. Chapin, who went to work for Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith in 1948, started his own firm as Chapin-Walker with partner Henry Walker in 1952, when the Dow Jones industrial average was hovering near 150.

Mr. Chapin was somewhat unconventional for the times, when he relocated his firm away from the Redwood Street financial district. He rented rooms on the third floor of the historic Roland Park Shopping Center, above the Morgan & Millard drugstore. The firm remained there until moving to Cross Keys in the mid-1970s.

In 1965, he took on a partner, H. Chace Davis Jr., and the firm's name became Chapin, Davis & Co.

"One of his major characteristics was his enthusiasm for investing in less well-known stocks and finding a nugget that hadn't been discovered," said Mr. Davis, who lives in Guilford.

"Chapin, Davis found a real niche and did a nice job for being a small firm. And he really loved the business," said W. James Price IV, a retired Alex. Brown & Sons managing director and St. Paul's School classmate of Mr. Chapin's.

In 1996, a majority of the equity in the firm was offered to its employees, but the former partners remained active in the business. "He was still going to the office and clearing off his desk within two weeks of his death," said Mr. Chapin's wife, the former Anne Louise Allen, a childhood acquaintance whom he married in 1949.

Born and raised in Roland Park, Mr. Chapin was a 1942 graduate of St. Paul's, whose campus then was on Rogers Avenue in Mount Washington.

Mr. Chapin planned to enlist in the Army Air Forces after graduation, but his father insisted that he matriculate at Dartmouth College.

"It was 1942, and everybody was enlisting. Unlike the boys of today who plan on going to college, we planned to go off to war," Mr. Chapin said in an interview for St. Paul's School's newsletter several years ago.

"My father persuaded me to go to Dartmouth, but I got impatient and before finishing, I resigned and enlisted," he said.

When a back problem that dated to high school forced him out of the Army Air Forces on a medical discharge a year later, Mr. Chapin joined the American Field Service as an ambulance driver and saw action in Alsace-Lorraine, France.

Returning to Baltimore at war's end, he attended the University of Virginia and the Johns Hopkins University on the G.I. Bill.

It was his old friend Mr. Price who rekindled Mr. Chapin's interest in St. Paul's, which had relocated to Brooklandville.

Mr. Chapin served as a trustee from 1991 to 1995, and continued to be active in fund raising for the private school.

In a ceremony tomorrow at St. Paul's, the new middle school will be named Chapin Hall in memory of the man who made a considerable financial contribution toward its completion.

Mr. Chapin enjoyed fly fishing in Montana, golfing and working in the azalea and rhododendron gardens at his Ruxton home of 42 years.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday in the chapel at St. Paul's School, 11152 Falls Road.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Wendy Chapin Albert of Monkton, and two granddaughters.

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