John C. Pohlhaus, Hopkins All-American and Alex. Brown partner, dies

In Jack Pohlhaus' book club, no one read; it was beer and business advice for young caddies

John Charles Pohlhaus, a two-time All-American lacrosse player at the Johns Hopkins University who became the youngest partner at Alex. Brown, died of pneumonia on Thanksgiving Day. He was 86 and died at home in Key Largo, Fla.

Known as "Jack," the avid outdoorsman would wake before sunrise to hunt ducks in Southern Maryland, then drive to arrive at his office by 9 a.m.

He was handsome and charismatic, an accomplished athlete and businessman — "The kind of man that every man aspires to," said Ned Dukehart, a former co-worker at Alex. Brown, the nation's first investment banking firm.

Mr. Pohlhaus directed the syndicate department at Alex. Brown. He also convened co-workers for lunches at Tio Pepe Restaurante and Maison Marconi's in Baltimore.

"He loved the proper lunch," Mr. Dukehart said. "He was probably the most popular guy at Alex. Brown."

Mr. Pohlhaus would also invite co-workers and friends to Fourth of July parties at his Eastern Shore farm. The menu: steamed crabs and roast pig.

The son of Walter Pohlhaus, a stockbroker, and Dorothy Robertson Pohlhaus, a homemaker, he was born in Baltimore and lettered in football, basketball and lacrosse at St. Paul's School. He graduated in 1948.

At Hopkins, he pledged Beta Theta Pi, joined the ROTC and studied business. He played defense on storied Blue Jays lacrosse teams.

"The coaches usually let him play the best guy on the other team," said Bud McNicholas, a former teammate.

Mr. Pohlhaus graduated in 1952 with a degree in business and married Jessie McCallum. They were married 43 years until her death in 1995.

In 1952, he was commissioned a Navy ensign aboard the USS J. Douglas Blackwood, a destroyer. He served two years and patrolled the Caribbean and South American coast.

He returned to Baltimore and played with Mr. McNicholas for the Mount Washington Lacrosse Club. Mr. Pohlhaus played for and coached the club for a decade.

The teammates bought homes three houses apart on Kenilworth Drive near Towson, and they bought and shared their first lawn mower. One December, Mr. McNicholas ordered his wife a washing machine — "the best money could buy" — and had it discreetly delivered to the Pohlhaus home.

Come Christmas Day, the two men pushed it down the street to surprise Mr. McNicholas' wife.

"People opened their doors and looked out, and here comes this laundry machine coming down the street," Mr. McNicholas recalled, laughing. They remained lifelong friends.

In 1954, Mr. Pohlhaus began work at the old John C. Legg & Co. Then he was hired at Alex. Brown in 1969, and soon became a partner running the syndicate department. He priced and distributed the stocks for public offering.

"He did it as well as anybody on Wall Street," Mr. Dukehart said.

Mr. Pohlhaus and his wife raised three children, and in 1972 the family bought Sherwood Manor Farm near St. Michaels. They lived in Riderwood, but spent summers, weekends and holidays at the farm. Mr. Pohlhaus fished, crabbed and hunted. He raised thoroughbred horses and sold them as yearlings. The family also raised dogs and goats.

One Easter morning, a goat entered through the dog door and was found atop the table eating the flower centerpiece.

"Dad was a guy that always had to be on the move," said a son, Carl Pohlhaus of Baltimore. "He couldn't sit still, and if he couldn't find anything to do, he would literally just sweep the floor."

Mr. Plohlhaus traveled to South Dakota to hunt pheasant, to Arkansas to hunt ducks and to the Scottish moors to hunt grouse. In Argentina, he hunted dove. He regularly attended horse races in Louisville, Saratoga Springs and Miami. He preferred Smirnoff vodka on ice.

A widower for about two years, he married Karen Hector of Miami in 1997. They lived part time at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, where he enjoyed playing golf.

He sold the St. Michaels farm and began living full time in Florida about three years ago.

He founded a book club, too, but no one read.

Instead, for his "book club," as he called it, Mr. Pohlhaus bought beer and pizza and invited over young caddies and attendants, those who aspired to careers in business.

"They kind of viewed my dad as a mentor," Carl Pohlhaus said. "Your status in life didn't affect his perception of you."

Mr. Dukehart said: "With all his credentials, he was completely unpretentious."

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday in the St. Paul's School chapel, 11152 Falls Road, Brooklandville.

In addition to his son and wife, survivors include another son, John Pohlhaus Jr. of Mississippi; daughter, Linda Pohlhaus of Florida; stepdaughter Ansley Elfmont Ross of Miami; and nine grandchildren.

tprudente@baltsun.com

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