William Koester Jr., 88

Bakery executive, actor

December 21, 2007

William Herman Koester Jr., a retired executive of his family's baking business who previously worked as a professional actor on stage and in television, died Monday at Greater Baltimore Medical Center of surgical complications from a recent fall. He was 88 and most recently lived in Towson.

Born in Baltimore and raised on St. George's Road, he was a 1938 Gilman School graduate. He earned a degree at Dartmouth College and served in the Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Wasp in the Pacific during World War II. He left military service as a lieutenant.

After the war, he moved to New York and became an actor. He performed in touring companies of South Pacific and Arsenic and Old Lace. He also performed in the television soap opera The Secret Storm.

In the 1950s, Mr. Koester returned to Baltimore and became sales director for his family's commercial bakery on West Lexington Street. He retired after the business was sold nearly 30 years ago.

Mr. Koester was a big-game hunter in the Western states and in Africa, South America and the Arctic. He donated his collection of animal heads to the Dartmouth Outdoors Club many years ago.

He was a volunteer counselor to substance abusers and worked out of Baltimore Washington Medical Center.

A Mason, he was a Boumi Temple Jester and belonged to the Baltimore Country Club and the Gibson Island Yacht Club.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 811 Cathedral St., Baltimore.

Survivors include a nephew, Richard G. Koester of Timonium; and a great-niece.

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