Joseph Brendan Herron, 74, founded insurance business


Joseph Brendan Herron, a retired insurance executive who enjoyed working with youths, died of an autoimmune disorder Friday at Charlestown Retirement Community. The former Timonium resident was 74.

Mr. Herron was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and his family moved to Irvington in 1939. He was a 1948 graduate of Calvert Hall College High School and earned a bachelor's degree in business from Loyola College in 1952.

He served in the Marine Corps before taking sales positions with Johnson & Johnson and Sunbeam Corp. in Boston.

In 1956, Mr. Herron returned to Baltimore and entered the insurance business after completing a training program sponsored by Aetna Life and Casualty Inc. He was an independent insurance agent until co-founding Herron, Quinn and Whelan, a Lutherville-based insurance agency, in 1965.

"He was known for the shrewd business advice he gave to his clients, in addition to the insurance he sold them. He had clients who were with him for over 30 years," said his daughter, Mary Jean Herron of Sherwood Forest.

"He had a relationship with my grandfather, who founded Forest Vending in 1948, and later with my father, his brother and me when we took over the business," said Brian K. Friedlander, who turned to Mr. Herron when he established Simply Beautiful Flowers, a Pikesville florist, in 1992.

"Joe gave me lots of good advice and business help, and was someone I could depend on. And when I needed help, he was always on the other end of the phone."

Mr. Herron was known as a hands-on businessman who enjoyed interacting with his clients.

"Even though he was an owner of the business, he also was a field man who regularly went out on visits to his clients. He'd come and visit once a month, and sit and work at an empty desk," Mr. Friedlander said.

Mr. Herron was a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter and was active locally in leading and participating in discussion groups on insurance topics. He was a CPCU instructor for many years and an examination grader for the Insurance Institute.

He retired in 1999 after the firm was sold to Warfield-Dorsey Co.

He was a longtime communicant of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Cockeysville and had been active in the parish parochial school and its home school association. He also held various positions with the Lutherville-Timonium Recreation Council.

He arranged for many Baltimore sports figures, including former Oriole Brooks Robinson and Bullets star Gene Shue, to present motivational speeches to students at the parish parochial school.

"He loved Catholic education and always gave tremendous support to the school during his time here. His three children had attended the school. Anything I ever asked him for, I got," said Sister Anne O'Donnell, the school's longtime principal.

He liked spending summers at a second home in Sherwood Forest and taking automobile trips.

"He was famous for what his family called `drive-by tourism,' where he would drive by as many sites of interest as quickly as he could. He did not want to waste time by actually stopping to walk around," his daughter said.

His wife of 40 years, the former Jean Meredith, died in 1997.

A funeral Mass was offered yesterday at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel at Charlestown.

Also surviving are two sons, J. Brendan Herron Jr. of Washington and Craig M. Herron of St. Louis; two brothers, James J. Herron of Panama City, Fla., and John D. Herron of Columbia; a sister, M. Kathleen Gansereit of Atlanta; and six grandchildren.

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