William W. Whitescarver, Army and NSA code-breaker and retirement investment planner, dies

William Warren Whitescarver, who owned a defined contribution and pension plan business and had been a code-breaker during the Cold War, died of cancer Monday at his Ruxton home. He was 81.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Homeland and Roland Park, he was the son of James Field Whitescarver, a World War I aviator and chemical engineer, and Annie Crewe Warren, a Virginia native.

Mr. Whitescarver attended the Gilman School, where he learned to play golf and participated in squash and tennis. He was a 1954 graduate of St. James School in Hagerstown. He then joined the Army and served in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Jackson, S.C.

Because of his aptitude in mathematics and puzzle solving, Mr. Whitescarver was assigned to the Army Security Agency School at Fort Devens, Mass., where he was trained as a cryptanalyst shortly after the end of the Korean War.

"My father said he had to master several languages, including Chinese," said a daughter, Virginia Whitescarver Pittman of Glyndon. "He said his work was like solving a puzzle. He looked for repeated letters or patterns. For him, there was always a way to take a language apart."

After he left military service, Mr. Whitescarver earned a bachelor's degree at the John Hopkins University. While a student, and for several years after graduation, he worked for the National Security Agency.

"He would go to cocktail parties, but he couldn't discuss anything he was doing," his daughter said. "He said it was tough to get dates because there was nothing to talk about."

In 1956, he married Virginia Conradt "Connie" Boyce, who was later board manager of the Woman's Industrial Exchange. The couple owned hunting and steeplechase horses.

Mr. Whitescarver left the NSA and joined the old Mercantile-Safe Deposit and Trust Co., where he worked in employee benefit plans.

"My father had a mind for mathematics," his daughter said.

In 1969, he left the bank and became a consultant to Herget and Co. in Charles Center. He later worked in the Baltimore-Washington office of Meidinger and Associates, another actuarial firm, also located in downtown Baltimore. In order to increase his knowledge of the field, he earned a master's degree in tax law at the University of Baltimore.

In 1985, Mr. Whitescarver co-founded Benefits Designers of Maryland. He had a Redwood Street office.

He worked with local employers to create retirement savings plans and custom-tailored investments for their workers. Among his clients was the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. As part of his duties, he visited the state's race courses and counseled workers on retirement plans.

"He was an early leader in the field of defined contribution and pension plans," said another daughter, Annie Whitescarver Brown of Ruxton, a T. Rowe Price vice president. She said she entered the field of finance because of her father.

"He pushed me forward in my knowledge of this industry. He was an articulate man and good writer who could explain a complicated financial concept."

He sold his business in 2007, and then joined Chapin, Davis; he became its vice president of investments and a member of its board. He worked in an office in the Village of Cross Keys. His wife also worked there, and their offices faced each other.

Mr. Whitescarver taught law at the University of Baltimore. He was chair of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland's Compensation Review Committee.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. named him to the board of the Maryland Supplemental Retirement Plans, and he was a past chair of its investment committee.

Mr. Whitescarver enjoyed tenpin bowling, tennis and golf. He earned the nickname "Skipper" after one of his shots skipped across a pond at the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club course.

In 1999, with his longtime partner, Thomas Swindell, he won the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club's Invitational Tournament. He also rated golf courses for Golf Week magazine, traveling to Australia, Ireland, South Africa and throughout the U.S.

"My father started as a caddie at the old Baltimore Country Club course in Roland Park in the 1940s. He would tell stories about how Falls Road cut the course in half," said another daughter, Mary Warren Whitescarver Scholtes of Phoenix in Baltimore County. "He was also a graceful dancer and could sweep a novice partner across any dance floor."

His daughters said their father was a humorist and storyteller. They said he had a contagious laugh accented by his twinkling blue eyes.

A life celebration will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club.

In addition to his three daughters, survivors include a sister, Frances Cook of Denver, and six grandchildren. His wife of 49 years died in 2015.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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