William S. Jeffries, who rose from a clerk at Alex. Brown & Sons to managing director and partner in the venerable Baltimore financial firm, died Aug. 8 of complications from dementia at Arden Courts of Towson. The longtime Ruxton resident was 88.
"Bill was the consummate professional and gentleman. He was boss, mentor, confidant and as the years passed, a wonderful lifelong friend to so many of us at Alex. Brown," said Mike Connelly, a retired managing director and partner at Alex. Brown.
The son of John Jeffries, vice president of Swindell Brothers, a South Baltimore glass manufacturing company, and Margaret Diehl Jeffries, William Spence Jeffries was born in Baltimore and raised in the city's Pimlico and Hampden neighborhoods.
After graduating from Loyola High School in 1943, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was sent to Guam, where he was deployed for 18 months and was a drill instructor.
Discharged with the rank of corporal, he attended Washington & Lee University before returning to Baltimore. After reading an ad in an employment office, he took a job in 1947 as a clerk in the cashier's department at Alex. Brown & Sons.
During the 1950s, Mr. Jeffries ran Alex. Brown's "back office" operation in Towson.
"During Bill's tenure, the firm went from where customer confirmations were typed out by hand on typewriters and were subject to misspellings to the computer age," said W. James Price IV, who joined the firm in the early 1950s and later became a general partner. "During that time he was in charge of operations, and he took us from the old way of doing things into the computer age."
Mr. Jeffries rose through the ranks and in 1964 was named manager of general administration. In 1966, he was appointed a general partner.
"His operational expertise and knowledge of the inner workings of the firm were superior," said Mr. Connelly. "During turbulent markets and back office challenges, his leadership helped protect client and firm assets."
"He took great pride in his firm and its reputation for honesty, truth, reliability and responsibility," said his wife of 25 years, the former Patricia Dowley.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Alex. Brown inaugurated large bond issues, and Mr. Jeffries played a key role in the financing of the second Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
"Bill was a very affable fellow and was interested in all of the employees. He treated everyone as an equal," said Mr. Connelly. "He was particularly interested in the junior people and encouraged advancement from within Alex. Brown."
Mr. Jeffries retired in 1988.
The longtime Ruxton resident was a member of the old Merchants Club on Redwood Street as well as a member of the Gibson Island Club, where he had been treasurer and a member of the board.
"Bill was an excellent sailor and a highly competitive tennis player," Mr. Connelly said.
Mr. Jeffries enjoyed sailing the Chesapeake Bay aboard the Skylark, a 38-foot sloop, with family and friends. "It was his greatest pleasure," Mrs. Jeffries said.
He and his wife enjoyed spending summers near Camden, Maine.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Aug. 22 in the chapel at Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Jeffries is survived by a son, William Spence "Spence" Jeffries III of Arnold; two daughters, Joan Jeffries of Glen Arm and Lynne Wesh of Mantua, N.J.; a stepdaughter, Laura Muggleton of Amsterdam, Netherlands; a brother, Jack Jeffries of Mount Airy; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His wife of 43 years, the former Jane Moore, died in 1988. A stepson, Robert Johnston, died in 2006.