Joel M. Bagby, 64, chief of firm that aids colleges in fund-raising efforts


Joel Marshall Bagby, president of his college and university fund-raising firm, died Saturday of lymphatic cancer at Stella Maris Hospice.

He was 64 and lived in Monkton.

During his long career, Mr. Bagby advised a number of prominent academic institutions on how to woo students and to coax them as graduates to donate money to their alma maters.

"His forte was that he was a brilliant writer and conceptualizer," said Gerry Willse, a colleague and friend. "He could get to the heart of the matter and make you understand it."

From his office on South Street in downtown Baltimore -- and later in Monkton -- Mr. Bagby pounded loudly on a manual Olympic typewriter as he conceived campaigns for the colleges and universities he advised.

From 1966 to 1992 he was an account executive with Barton-Gillet, a Baltimore firm that specialized in college-admissions marketing and fund raising.

In 1992, he moved to Minneapolis to head a communications division for the national fund-raising consulting firm of Bentz Whaley Flessner.

In 1994, he set up his firm in Monkton.

Mr. Bagby devised these strategies for a large client list, including colleges associated with the United Methodist Church, Duke University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Michigan Medical Center and Indiana University.

"He was highly regarded in the industry. You'd go to a convention and everyone knew him," Mr. Willse said.

"He was a humorist in the style of Will Rogers," said his daughter, Kim Carlin of Baltimore.

"He honored every occasion with pithy, ironic and often rhymed observations on the absurdities of everyday life. He typed them on little scraps of paper."

Born in Oklahoma City, Okla., Mr. Bagby received a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Oklahoma and then worked as a reporter for the Lawton Constitution and Morning Press in Lawton, Okla.

He also worked as a press information assistant for his college, a job that led to a stint at the U.S. Army Information School at Fort Slocum, N.Y., during his military service in the late 1950s.

He was editor of the University of Denver's alumni magazine for six years before moving to Washington, where he briefly served as Georgetown University's editor of alumni publications.

He was married to the former Rita Kotarides, an antiques dealer and interior designer, for 28 years.

Services were conducted Wednesday.

In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by a son, Michael David Bagby of Ashburn, Va.; four other daughters, Robyn Lynn Bagby of Pasadena, Kelly Bagby Moroney of Odenton, Claire Rusko-Berger of Baltimore and Jackie Monge of Ellicott City; and eight grandchildren.

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