Edmund Barrett, 90, insurance executive

October 18, 2002|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Edmund S. Barrett, a former Monumental Life Insurance Co. executive and ballroom dancer, died of cancer Tuesday at his Mays Chapel home. He was 90.

He retired about 25 years ago as senior vice president of the Mount Vernon insurance firm, where he worked for nearly 35 years and rose from fraud investigator to the company's executive offices.

Born in Baltimore and raised in the Union Square neighborhood, he was a graduate of St. Martin's High School. He studied at a local business school and became a secretary. Friends said he retained those basic business skills - he later took shorthand refresher courses - and used them at the insurance company's board meetings.

In the mid-1930s, he became an investigator for the Hooper-Holmes Agency, a personal investigation business in the old downtown Hearst Tower Building.

He took a job with Monumental, but his career was interrupted as he enlisted in the Army early in World War II and won decorations including two Bronze Stars for action in Europe.

Returning to the insurance business, he rose to become vice president of district agencies in 1967 - a role in which he oversaw the work of 1,300 employees. Four years later, he was elected the firm's senior vice president.

He was then named to head Monumental's work in international fields. He traveled for the company in Europe and North Africa, and retired as vice president for international markets, although he remained a consultant for several years.

Mr. Barrett, a descendant of Declaration of Independence signer Charles Carroll of Carrollton, was a ballroom dancer who was a devotee of the old Greenspring Inn, Belvedere Hotel and Valley Country Club. He also belonged to the Elkridge, Greenspring and Mount Washington clubs.

"He loved music," said his niece, Pat Wellbrock of Pikesville. "And he reminded me of film star William Powell - he was a sophisticated man who had fun. His favorite pastime was the art of conversation. He talked about current news, politics, finance and current events - and family."

Mr. Barrett dressed in custom-tailored suits and frequently wore bow ties. He favored Cadillacs, and owned four in his last decade - each as meticulously kept as his appearance.

He often crossed the Atlantic on steamships. Family members said he had reserved passage for a trip on the Queen Elizabeth II later this year.

His wife of 60 years, the former Y. Mae Bedsworth, died two years ago.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Roman Catholic Church of the Nativity, 20 E. Ridgely Road, Timonium, where he was a parishioner and benefactor.

Mr. Barrett is survived by his companion, V. Maria Buck of Timonium; a daughter, Karen T. Webster of Mays Chapel; two granddaughters; and a great-grandson.

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