Edmund A. "Ted" Stanley Jr., a generous but quiet benefactor to environmental causes who made a fortune in a New York financial printing business, died Wednesday of a neurological disease at his Oxford home. He was 85.
Mr. Stanley, with his wife, Jennifer, gave more than $45 million in the past three decades. He had said he sought "a sustainable environment" and searched "for a just society and a peaceful world." One of his major goals was a healthy Chesapeake Bay watershed.
"He really had no ego. It was all about good work," said William C. Baker, director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. "As a philanthropist, he was more interested in doing good rather than what people said about what he did. Ted Stanley was one of the earliest and was the most generous supporters of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation."
Mr. Baker said that Mr. Stanley showed up at the foundation's Annapolis headquarters one day many years ago.
"He saw a bumper sticker that said 'Save the Bay,' " Mr. Baker said.
The Stanleys were also early donors to National Public Radio's "Morning Edition." When their names were announced as donors, few listeners realized they were a couple living in Talbot County.
"They were our first stalwarts," said former NPR host Susan Stamberg. "They were listeners who found us and decided we needed to succeed."
Born in New York City, Mr. Stanley graduated in 1943 from New Jersey's Lawrenceville School, where he was later a trustee and funded its Aldo Leopold Distinguished Chair in Environmental Science and Ethics.
Mr. Stanley served in the Army's 175th Infantry during World War II. He participated in the Battle of the Bulge and in fighting at the Colmar Pocket. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
"The war shaped him," said his wife, the former Jennifer Berger. "He was so young [he was 20 in early 1945], and the weather was so cold. He knew from that war experience there had to be a better way."
A 1949 Princeton University graduate, he joined Bowne & Co. Inc., a corporate and financial printing company once headed by his father. The business was founded in 1775 by Robert Bowne. News accounts say it is the oldest business in New York state operating under the same name since its founding and the oldest company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. He was its chief executive officer from 1956 until his retirement in 1981, when he moved to Maryland.
Mr. Stanley was a past governor of the American Stock Exchange, a director of the Venture Group of mutual funds and a limited partner of the old Alex. Brown & Sons in Baltimore.
"He was just a quiet philanthropist," said Truman T. Semans, a friend and Princeton classmate who lives in Brooklandville. "His passion was the bay and the environment."
One of his early causes was the Turtle Bay Tree Fund, a Manhattan neighborhood beautification effort, of which he was president. He also gave to after-school and literacy programs in New York City public schools.
He also served as a trustee of South Street Seaport Museum in New York City. He, with the Robert Bowne Foundation, financed the re-creation of a printing and stationery shop at 211 Water St. in Lower Manhattan.
An avid Chesapeake Bay sailor, he retired in 1981 with his wife to an Oxford waterfront home called Maplehurst.
He was president and founder of two foundations: the Robert Bowne Foundation of New York and the Town Creek Foundation of Easton.
"I wanted to give while I was alive, not posthumously," he said in a Town Creek Foundation publication.
Stuart Alan Clarke, who now heads the Easton foundation, said Mr. Stanley personally assessed all the groups who approached him for backing. He initially worked from an old church building in Oxford.
"He was extraordinarily generous of spirit," Mr. Clarke said. "He was always kind and gentlemanly."
Colleagues said that Mr. Stanley held strong feelings about the environment, peace and security, and news dissemination. They said he gave to these causes, believing in their interdependence and in the need for an informed public.
"Ted so respected the work of grant seekers - both large and small - who were working for a healthy environment, an informed society and a peaceful world," his wife said. "This respect made him willing - when other foundations often were not - to provide general support and continuing support. He was guided by the concepts of action and advocacy. The threat of political controversy or lawsuits did not discourage him."
Mrs. Stanley said her husband "believed that government, corporations and the citizenry must respect the truth and be held accountable if a just and sustainable world is to be realized."
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has established a medal struck in gold and named in his honor. He was the first recipient of the award.
Plans for a memorial service are incomplete.
In addition to his wife of 33 years, survivors include two sons, Ted Stanley of Martha's Vineyard, Mass., and Eric V. Stanley of Newtonville, Mass.; a daughter, Lisa A. Stanley of Reno, Nev.; a brother, Thomas O. Stanley of Oxford; three grandchildren; and two great-granddaughters.