John W. Pierson Jr. dies at 87

Insurance executive enjoyed sailing and big band music

August 26, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

John W. Pierson Jr., a semiretired insurance executive who enjoyed sailing the bay and listening to 1930s and '40s big-band music, died Aug. 16 of Parkinson's disease at Gilchrist Hospice Care.

The Middle River resident was 87.

Mr. Pierson, the son of a radiologist and a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and was raised in an apartment above his father's office in the 1100 block of St. Paul St.

After graduating from Gilman School in 1941, he began his college studies at Haverford College in Pennsylvania.

In 1943, he left Haverford and enlisted in the Navy, where he served stateside for the next three years. After being discharged in 1946 with the rank of lieutenant, he returned to Haverford, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1948.

Mr. Pierson went to work for Baltimore Life Insurance Co., Confederation Life and subsequently Provident Mutual.

"I first got to know John when I went to Provident Mutual in 1953," said Emil A. "Buzzy" Budnitz, who later established Lake Falls Financial. "We left Provident Mutual in 1984, and he later joined me at Cross Keys, where we were quasi-partners."

The firm later relocated to a new building at Falls Road and Lake Avenue in North Baltimore.

"John was the consummate old-time insurance fellow who worked very hard for his clients. He had not retired, and was still taking care of and calling his clients," Mr. Budnitz said.

A former resident of the Rockland neighborhood of Baltimore County, Mr. Pierson had lived since 1989 in Middle River, where he enjoyed watching the Wednesday evening sailboat races and seeing his step-grandchildren fish and crab.

He enjoyed sailing the Chesapeake Bay aboard his 34-foot boat, the Demi Jon, and was a member of the Potapskut Sailing Association.

Mr. Pierson was a fan of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and also liked listening to jazz.

He was a member of the Grasshopper Society at Gilman, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Orioles Advocates and the Towson Rotary Club.

Mr. Pierson was a 74-year communicant of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 811 Cathedral St., where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Surviving are his wife of 27 years, the former Margaret A. Sparwasser; a daughter, Jeremy Moore of Front Royal, Va.; three stepsons, Carroll G. Sparwasser of Arnold, Charles T. Sparwasser of Middle River and Daniel Sparwasser of Andover, Kan.; two grandchildren; and five step-grandchildren. His wife of 11 years, the former Mary Rose Canitz, died in 1982. An earlier marriage ended in divorce.

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