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John H. Beatson Sr., 58, insurance firm founder, former lacrosse All-American


John Herbert Beatson Sr., a Baltimore insurance executive and former All-American lacrosse player, died Sunday of cancer at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson. The Village of Cross Keys resident was 58.

Mr. Beatson had been a real estate sales associate with Trout, Segall and Doyle Inc., a Baltimore firm, since 1994. Before then, he had been in the insurance business since graduating from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, in 1966.

As a child, he learned lacrosse from his father.

"Lots of fathers and sons play catch with a baseball, but he and I played lacrosse catch with [his brother] virtually every night of their childhood," said his father, William P. Beatson Sr. of Cockeysville.

Mr. Beatson was a lacrosse attackman at Boys' Latin School, where he graduated in 1962, and at Denison, where he was an All-American honorable mention. He was named later to the university's Hall of Fame.

He played club lacrosse for the Mount Washington Club until 1970 and was a member of the team that won the Club Lacrosse World Championship in Canada.

After his playing days ended, Mr. Beatson kept up his interest in the sport and attended his sons' games.

"His older son played lacrosse with my son at Gilman School," said Donald L. DeVries, a Baltimore attorney. "His son later played for Brown [University] and mine for Harvard [University], and we'd go up to see the Brown-Harvard game and someone had to come home disappointed," he said, laughing.

"He was an accomplished lacrosse player and well-known in the lacrosse world. He knew the game inside and out, and if you asked, would give you his thoughts. But he never imposed his views," said Mr. DeVries of Roland Park.

Mr. Beatson's battle with cancer served as an inspiration to family and friends.

"Twelve years ago, he was diagnosed with renal cancer and given six days to live," said Ron Shapiro, a prominent Baltimore attorney. "He somehow survived it and battled back from it. It's an amazing story."

"He taught us a lot about how to live life under adverse circumstances," said Mr. DeVries. "His spirit was unbelievable, and he proved that attitude can make a big difference. He never gave in to the cancer and led a normal life. If you didn't know about his illness, then he wouldn't tell you. He was truly remarkable."

Mr. Beatson was born in Baltimore and raised in Roland Park. After graduating from college, he entered the insurance business, joining Tongue, Brooks & Company Inc. in Baltimore. In 1977, he was named executive vice president of Charles Herget Inc., also in Baltimore, where he was also in charge of marketing.

In the early 1980s, he established Beatson Corp., a general insurance brokerage, where he was chief executive officer and president until leaving the business in 1992.

He had served as president of the Children's Fresh Air Society and was a member of the board of the Lacrosse Foundation, the Maryland Club and the Baltimore Country Club.

His marriage to Cathi Adams ended in divorce.

Mr. Beatson was a communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Carrollton and Boyce avenues, Ruxton, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. today.

In addition to his father, he is survived by three sons, John Herbert Beatson Jr. of New York City, and Philip W. Beatson and William P. Beatson III, both of Butler; and a brother, William P. Beatson Jr. of Annapolis.

Memorial donations may be made to the Lacrosse Foundation, 113 University Parkway, Baltimore 21218; or the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care 6701 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21704.

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