Sewell S. Watts III, 72, banker, theater board head

Sewell Stansbury Watts III, an investment banker who headed the board of Center Stage, died Saturday at his Guilford home of complications from back surgery. He was 72.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Overhill Road, he attended Calvert School and was a 1950 graduate of Gilman School. At Princeton University, where he graduated in 1954, he majored in economics and was a member of the 1953 national championship lacrosse team. He took graduate studies in business at the Wharton School in Philadelphia.


Mr. Watts served in the Army from 1954 to 1956 and was stationed in Germany, then joined the investment banking firm of Baker, Watts & Co., co-founded by his grandfather, Sewell Watts, in 1900.

He became a partner in the downtown Baltimore firm in 1968, managing partner in 1983, and its chairman in 1988. The firm merged with Ferris and Co. in 1989, and Mr. Watts became a managing director. He remained at the firm until his death.


Family members said Mr. Watts was passionate about Shakespeare, Beethoven, Princeton and the city of his birth. He was involved in many civic, cultural and educational affairs.

"Until very recently, his daily activities included early morning drives around Baltimore, exploring its neighborhoods and tracking its development," said daughter Caroline Lucinda Watts of Waltham, Mass. "He never lost interest in the people and events that make the city unique. He hoped to contribute to its growth through his personal and professional involvement."

He was a former board member of Bryn Mawr School, Planned Parenthood, the Economic Development Commission of Baltimore City, Johns Hopkins Center for Metro Planning and Research, Maryland General Hospital, the Peabody Institute, Baltimore Museum of Art and Wesley Home, and served as president of the board of Center Stage from 1967 to 1972.

He also was a member of the Maryland Club, Center Club, Princeton Club of New York and Elkridge Club.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St.

Survivors, in addition to his daughter, include his wife of 28 years, the former Margaret Diane "Penny" Nichols; a son, Jonathan Stansbury Watts of Kamakura, Japan; another daughter, Anne Hambleton Watts of Cambridge; a stepson, Army Col. John W. Nicholson Jr. of Fort Drum, N.Y.; a stepdaughter, Kimberley Jane Nicholson of Jackson, Wyo.; and nine grandchildren. A previous marriage ended in divorce.