Martin W. White, a banker who helped hundreds of small businesses and was widely known as "Uncle Marty," died in his Baltimore home Jan. 8 after a long illness caused by cancer, diabetes and heart problems. He was 73.
Mr. White worked at Union Trust Co. of Maryland -- which later become Signet Bank and Wachovia -- for 35 years until his retirement in 1992. For the last 20 years of his career, he was a lending officer and loan administrator for commercial lending divisions of the bank.
Friends said Mr. White was proudest of his work securing loans for emerging and minority-owned businesses. A booklet he wrote, "What Can A Commercial Bank Do For You," a popular guide for small businesses, was distributed nationally.
"He helped everybody out," said Jeff Guidera of Timonium, Mr. White's godson. "He'd lend people money through the bank that most people wouldn't support. Just based on character. ... He had a good sense of people."
Colleagues appreciated Mr. White's level-headedness and judgment and often sought his counsel, said a former fellow banker, Thomas Scott of Catonsville.
Mr. White served on the board of directors of the National Association of Credit Management, Chesapeake Chapter; the Development Credit Corp. of Maryland and the Baltimore County Economic Development Commission. In 1989, he was appointed to the steering committee of the Mayor's Youth Leadership Trust, and through his involvement, his bank became the group's corporate sponsor for two years.
A Baltimore native, Mr. White graduated from Calvert Hall College High School and Loyola College. After serving several years in the Coast Guard in Virginia, he went on to earn a graduate degree in banking from Rutgers University.
Mr. White had a knack for making and retaining friends, and they remembered him as generous, funny and quick to laugh. He was often the first to arrive and the last to leave parties and he loved to dance and wasn't shy about making fun of himself, friends and family said. Once, Mr. White, who was more than 6 feet tall, donned a wig and patent leather shoes for a Shirley Temple costume.
Mr. White, who was briefly married decades ago, didn't have children, but he was extremely close to Barbara Muth and James G. Guidera of Timonium -- whom he had known since high school -- and their five children.
"He came to every party, graduation, cookout, birthday, Christmas and Thanksgiving," Jeff Guidera said. "And he was always the life of the party."
Mr. White was a fixture at Michael's Cafe in Timonium, where he was known as Uncle Marty. He had a spot at the bar that regulars would vacate when he arrived to sip iced teas and diet Cokes and socialize. When Mr. White went to Florida for vacation, Michael Dellis, the restaurant owner, would ship his patron his favorite dish -- crab cakes.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church, 740 N. Calvert St. Afterward, at Mr. White's request, friends will gather at Michael's Cafe for food and drink.
He left no immediate survivors.