R. Gerard Willse Jr., 75, partner with Alex. Brown


R. Gerard Willse Jr., a municipal finance expert who was associated with Alex. Brown & Sons Inc. for more than 50 years, died Monday of cancer at his Ruxton home. He was 75.

He began his career with the venerable Baltimore financial institution in 1945 as a registered representative and at the time of his death was partner emeritus.

In 1949, he joined the firm's municipal bond department, where he was instrumental in arranging public financing for health care and municipal facilities throughout the state, including most Baltimore area hospitals, Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury and Memorial Hospital at Easton.

Because of his expertise, he was known as the "Municipal Giant" within the department.

He was appointed a general partner at Alex. Brown in 1959 and headed the public finance department until 1985. He served as managing director from 1985 to 1987, when he was named partner emeritus.

"I sat with Gerry in the same office for many years," recalled W. James Price IV, managing director emeritus of the firm. "He was a municipal bond man through and through and he had an astute knowledge of local companies. He was also a major player in both of the Bay Bridge deals."

Said George Seger, a former Alex. Brown partner and vice president of H. C. Wainwright & Co. Inc. in Easton, "He was an outstanding individual who certainly represented the integrity, acumen and respectability as a partner of Alex. Brown. He was certainly a leader in his field and to know Gerry was to know a fine and outstanding gentleman."

Mr. Willse was a former director of Willse & Associates Inc. and an arbitrator for the New York Stock Exchange Regional Board of Arbitration.

He was active in civic affairs and was a past president of Church Hospital and the Maryland Hospital Association and had served on the board of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland.

He also served on the boards of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Peabody Institute and the University of Virginia Student Aid Foundation. He was a member of the Elkridge Club and a former president of the Maryland State Golf Association and the U.S. Seniors Golf Association. He was also a member of the Linville Golf Club in North Carolina.

Mr. Willse was born in Baltimore, the son of Dr. R. Gerard Willse Sr. and Roberta Rouse Willse, and raised in Guilford. He was a 1940 graduate of the Gilman School and attended the University of Virginia, leaving in 1942 to work in the accounting department of Bethlehem Steel Corp. at Sparrows Point.

His family said that while at Gilman, he held the Maryland indoor shot put record for nearly 20 years and in the Penn Relays, while in college, was one of the first runners to run the 100-yard dash in under 10 seconds.

He was a member of the vestry at Episcopal Church of the Redeemer and the Investment Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and a board member of the Episcopal Church Foundation in New York City.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. today at Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, the former Sally Gordon Barton; three sons, R. Gerard Willse III and Bolling Barton Willse, lTC both of Baltimore, and David W. B. Willse of Easton; a daughter, Sally Willse Scally of Baltimore; 14 grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

Memorial donations may be made to Hospice of Baltimore, 6601 N. Charles St., Towson 21204; or the League Serving People With Physical Disabilities, 1111 E. Cold Spring Lane, Baltimore 21239.

Pub Date: 8/14/96

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