William Athey, insurance executive


William B. Athey, a retired insurance executive who loved taking out-of-town visitors on unconventional tours of Baltimore, died last Thursday of a pulmonary embolism at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

The resident of Charlesbrooke, Baltimore County, was 83.

In 1946, Mr. Athey purchased Hopper, Polk and Purnell, an insurance brokerage, and renamed it Athey and Barton. It later became Athey, Obers and Associates and finally Hallmark Insurance Co. Mr. Athey retired in 1975.

He was born and reared on Carrollton Avenue in West Baltimore and in Round Bay near Severna Park, where his parents had a summer home. He was a 1928 graduate of Polytechnic Institute and earned his bachelor's degree from St. John's College in Annapolis in 1932 and a law degree from the University of Maryland in 1938.

He began his insurance career in 1932 when an uncle got a friend to take him into the business.

During World War II, he served in the Marines in the Pacific theater and was awarded the Bronze Star. He was discharged in 1945 with the rank of captain.

He was the quintessential Baltimorean who, in warm months, favored seersucker suits and a straw boater. He enjoyed motoring on Charles Street in his favorite car, a 1970 yellow Oldsmobile convertible.

Lois E. Athey, a daughter who lives in Washington, said, "He loved Baltimore and loved giving people tours of the town. He knew all the obscure and interesting corners of the city and thoroughly enjoyed visiting all of the city markets regularly.

"Besides hats, he also loved to collect clocks and must have had at least 50," she said. "He would adjust them so he could hear them all strike at midnight."

Mr. Athey was a founding member of the Insurance Roundtable in 1946, an educational organization of the local insurance industry.

He was active in alumni affairs at St. John's and was awarded the college's Alumni Award of Merit in 1971. He served on the school's board of visitors and governors.

He was a communicant at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer.

On Dec. 7, 1941, the day that Pearl Harbor was bombed, he became engaged to the former Elsa Stoffregen of Montclair, N.J., whom he married in 1942.

A memorial service is set for noon Saturday in the chapel of the Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St.

In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by two other daughters, Elizabeth L. Athey of Washington and Susan E. Athey of Ruxton; a brother, Thomas B. Athey of Washington; and five grandchildren.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Church of the Redeemer or the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 162 Prince George St., Annapolis 21401.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad