William Paca Beatson, 91, insurance executive

December 01, 2003|By Molly Knight | Molly Knight,SUN STAFF

William Paca Beatson Sr., a retired insurance executive, died Friday of complications from a stroke at the Broadmead retirement community in Hunt Valley. He was 91.

A direct descendant of William Paca, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the third governor of Maryland, Mr. Beatson was an avid student of American history. A gifted raconteur, he often delighted his three grandchildren with stories about their ancestors, whom he had traced back several generations.

"He loved life and loved sharing it with other people," said attorney and sports agent Ron Shapiro, a close family friend. "The way he shared it was with his unbelievable memory of things that went on during his almost century of a lifetime. He helped us understand so much about life."

A resident of Ruxton, Mr. Beatson enjoyed traveling to Annapolis for events at the William Paca House, where one of his grandsons, William Paca Beatson III of Butler, was christened in 1989.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Mr. Beatson was a 1931 graduate of Gilman School. In 1935, he earned a bachelor's degree from Princeton University.

In 1938, Mr. Beatson married Mary Colt Wilcox, a longtime volunteer who pioneered the Maryland School for the Blind's Touch and Smell program. Mrs. Beatson died in 2000.

A career insurance executive, Mr. Beatson spent more than three decades at Tongue, Brooks & Co., an insurance brokerage firm in Baltimore, where he was partner. After retiring in 1976, he spent 12 years volunteering as a teaching assistant in shop classes at Gilman, where his three grandsons attended.

Mr. Shapiro said Mr. Beatson was devoted to his three grandchildren, plastering pictures of them on his refrigerator and telling friends about their achievements.

"His face lit up like a light bulb when his grandkids walked in the room," Mr. Shapiro said.

Mr. Beatson devoted much of his spare time to woodworking, carving hundreds of intricate figures of birds out of different types of wood.

"He was extremely patient and enjoyed working with children very much," said one of his grandsons, John Herbert Beatson of New York City. "He derived a lot of satisfaction in seeing other people enjoy a skill he had honed his entire life."

Mr. Beatson also loved golf and was a regular on the course at the Baltimore Country Club until age 85. Friends also recalled his love for holly trees, which he planted on the 5-acre Eastern Shore farm that he owned.

Long active in the community, Mr. Beatson served as president of the Children's Fresh Air Society, as a member of the first board of the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, and as the second president of the board of trustees of Boys' Latin School.

Mr. Beatson was also a communicant of the Church of Good Shepherd in Ruxton. Services were held there yesterday.

Mr. Beatson is survived by his youngest son, William Paca Beatson Jr. of Annapolis, and another grandson, Philip Whittington Beatson of Butler. His eldest son, John H. Beatson of Baltimore, died in 2001.

Memorial donations may be made to the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care at GBMC, 6701 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21204, or to Broadmead, 13801 York Road, Cockeysville 21030.

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