Arthur Davis III

[Age 64] The real estate salesman known for his trustworthiness and gentlemanly way was president of Chase Fitzgerald.

December 14, 2007|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN REPORTER

Arthur Edward "Otts" Davis III, a well-known Baltimore real estate salesman who was president of Chase Fitzgerald, a Roland Park realty, died Monday of liver disease at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was 64.

Mr. Davis was born in Baltimore and spent his early years in Annapolis. When he was 12, his family moved to Baltimore so that he could attend Gilman School, from which he graduated in 1961. It was at Gilman that he picked up the nickname "Otts."

After earning a bachelor's degree in 1965 from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., Mr. Davis taught math for a year in Baltimore public schools before joining the faculty at McDonogh School in 1967.

"I couldn't rationalize the low income that comes with teaching," he told The Sun in a 1994 article, of his decision to make a career change.

It was his aunt, Dorothy Fitzgerald, one of the founders of Chase Fitzgerald, who talked her nephew into considering real estate as a career.

"She knew I was looking for a job and thought I had a natural affinity for sales," he said in the interview.

Mr. Davis combined a natural affability with a wide circle of friends and an intimate knowledge and appreciation of North Baltimore's neighborhoods.

He also realized the value of listening to a client while trying to satisfy his housing requirements.

"I can still talk to somebody and know when I've lost them," he said in the interview. "The teacher in me can see the eyes glaze over."

"He loved being in real estate sales. He was such a people person and that's why he was such a good Realtor," said his sister, Beverly Bancroft Davis of North Roland Park.

"Otts was so well-known, and people were always coming up and telling me that he was the nicest guy they've ever known," she said.

Carol D. Schmidt, Chase Fitzgerald vice president and executive treasurer, applauded her cousin's honesty, integrity and ability to put people at ease.

"He had the ability of sitting down with a client and making them feel as if they were the only one he had in the world," Ms. Schmidt said.

"I've known Otts for 30 years and he was the consummate gentleman. The Baltimore real estate community will sorely miss him," said Jake Boone, a real estate agent with Hill & Co. "He was a very gentle soul, and they don't come any better."

Mr. Davis, who had a wide smile, liked to wear perfectly cut tweed sport coats and navy blazers, and tortoise-shell glasses that framed his youthful face.

Adam D. Cockey Jr., former managing partner and majority owner of the old W.H.C. Wilson Co. in Roland Park, and now vice president of Prudential Carruthers Realtors, had been a close friend since 1973.

"He was the gentleman Realtor, and in business, you trusted everything he did. He set the bar very high for all of us in the industry," Mr. Cockey said yesterday.

"When I was at W.H.C. Wilson, we were friendly competitors who worked together for the best interest of everyone involved and during transactions left no stone unturned," he said.

"With Otts, there was only one way of doing things, and that was the right way. There was a gentleness about him that made you feel comfortable when you were dealing with him," Mr. Cockey said. "You trusted everything he did. There were never any shenanigans."

Mr. Davis had been president of the Maryland Association of Realtors and the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, and had served as board chairman of Roland Park Place.

Mr. Davis, who was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and had recently celebrated 31 years of sobriety, continued to help those in need.

"He'd get a phone call in the middle of the night and would get up and go out so he could help someone. He liked trying to make people happy," said his wife of 30 years, the former Melinda Mitchell.

For the past 25 years, Mr. Davis and his wife lived in a Wyndhurst Avenue condominium, where he indulged his passion for book collecting.

He was an avid reader of history, archaeology and mysteries, and enjoyed traveling. He was a fan of doo-wop and country western music.

"Otts also loved old cars and enjoyed driving our father's 1956 cobalt blue Cadillac convertible. It had a red leather interior and white top, and whenever he drove it, it turned heads," his sister said.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Gilman School Alumni Auditorium, 5407 Roland Ave.

Also surviving is a niece. An earlier marriage to Hedy Van Reuth ended in divorce.

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