Edwin A. Daniels, 76, Rouse Co. vice president

April 18, 2002|By Heather Dewar | Heather Dewar,SUN STAFF

Edwin A. Daniels, a retired Rouse Co. vice president and former executive director of its charity foundation, died Tuesday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care after a seven-month battle with lung cancer. He was 76.

A hard-working philanthropist, Mr. Daniels was best known for his involvement with Baltimore arts organizations such as Center Stage and Maryland Institute College of Art. He also volunteered on behalf of hospices, hospitals, schools and anti-poverty programs from East Baltimore to Guatemala.

The night before he died, Mr. Daniels talked about plans for Ladew Topiary Gardens, where he was a board member, said Ladew's vice president, Wendy Griswold.

"Ned was everywhere, in everything," said Mathias J. DeVito, retired chairman and chief executive officer of Rouse. "One day he might be looking at housing for poor people; the next day he'd be hosting an incredible party that was perfect down to the last flower; and the next day he'd be raising money for an AIDS hospice. He was an unusual man with unusual gifts."

Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, Mr. Daniels interrupted his education at Colgate University for Navy service as a weather specialist in the South Pacific during World War II. He then returned to Colgate and organized the school's first campus concert series before graduating in 1949.

In 1952, he came to Baltimore to work at Gomprecht & Benesch, a store selling modern furniture. There he met James W. Rouse, who was impressed by Mr. Daniels' sense of style, Mr. DeVito said. He was one of Mr. Rouse's first dozen employees, joining the company in 1956.

The next year, Mr. Daniels created the company's Art in the Marketplace program, the first effort by a U.S. developer to bring the arts into shopping centers. The program, which began at Mondawmin Mall with a series of summer concerts by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, won national recognition.

Mr. Daniels was involved in every phase of project design, from the first architectural renderings to opening-day flowers, Mr. DeVito said. "He invented a lot of the things that people admired in the projects that we did. He was brought into virtually everything that had to do with style, taste or color. ... Everybody wanted to know, `What does Ned think?'"

Mr. Daniels was a Rouse vice president from 1965 until he retired in 1988. From 1986 to 1993, he was executive director of the Rouse Co. Foundation.

Mr. Daniels served on the board of Maryland Institute College of Art and "spent hours and hours at Ikea ... furnishing our faculty apartments," said Fred Lazarus, president of MICA and a longtime friend. "He really had fun with it, and he did a great job. The only thing that drove him crazy was he found out Ikea didn't deliver" at the time.

Mr. Daniels lived in Ruxton for many years before moving about nine years ago to Rockland, a cluster of restored houses on Falls Road in Baltimore County, said his sister, Nancy Waxter of Easton.

In March, Mr. Daniels, an avid gardener, visited the site of his future memorial, a courtyard garden at the former Women's Hospital of Baltimore, which MICA is converting into a student residence hall.

Mr. Daniels planned his funeral, down to the flowers -- white tulips -- and the mood, said his daughter, Frances Daniels Cobb of San Francisco. "He wanted people to celebrate and be joyful, to not look backwards."

Mr. Daniels would not leave any occasion, even his funeral, to chance, said his friend Peter Culman, former managing director of Center Stage. "He always cherished what could be made out of a moment."

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, St. Thomas Lane and Garrison Forest Road in Owings Mills.

In addition to his daughter and his sister, Mr. Daniels is survived by three granddaughters; a niece; and a nephew. His 1965 marriage to Sidney Erwin ended in divorce.

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