William Frederick Gliss Jr., retired chairman and chief executive officer of Legg Mason, an investment firm, died Monday of cancer at Memorial Hospital in Easton. He was 81 and had lived in Easton since 1997.
An investment banker, Mr. Gliss started in the insurance field and joined Legg Mason in 1952 as an expert in insurance stocks. He retired in the 1970s.
"He was a strong person, a man of compassion," said Joseph W. Sener Jr., a former associate and friend who lives in Church Hill. "I always admired Bill because when he got out of the service, he had not been to college. He went to school at night and worked long and hard to get his degree."
Born in Baltimore and raised in Hamilton, Mr. Gliss attended Baltimore public schools. He received a bachelor of science degree in economics from the Johns Hopkins University in 1955.
As a young man, he worked at the Western Electric Co.'s Point Breeze plant. During World War II, he served on Liberty ships as a member of the Army transportation corps.
In the 1940s, he joined New Amsterdam Casualty Co., an insurer in downtown Baltimore.
In 1952, he joined the old John C. Legg & Co. and became co-manager of the insurance stocks department three years later. He was elected managing partner of the Legg firm, which merged with Mason & Co. to become Legg Mason in 1970. At the time of the merger, he became chairman of the board and chief executive officer.
"He was one of the experts in the country in insurance stocks. He was highly regarded," said Raymond "Chip" Mason, chairman and president of Legg Mason Inc. "He was inclusive. He included everyone in the decision-making process and was well liked in the firm."
After Mr. Gliss left Legg Mason, he became chairman of the investment trust department of the old Equitable Trust Co. and retired again in 1984.
He lived in a suburb of Savannah, Ga., for nine years. He moved to Easton in 1997.
He was senior warden of Immanuel Episcopal Church in Glencoe, Baltimore County, where he was a longtime member. He was a board member of St. Paul's School for Girls in Brooklandville, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Wesley College in Dover, Del.
While living in the Glencoe section of Baltimore County, Mr. Gliss rode with the Elkridge-Harford Hunt.
In 1944, he married Ruth Sawyer, a church volunteer.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. July 21 at William Hill Manor auditorium, 501 Dutchman's Lane, Easton.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Gliss is survived by two daughters, Christine Bowers of Baltimore and Susan Gliss of Dallas; a brother, George Gliss of Augusta, Ga.; and a granddaughter.